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(■ of St. Francis deSj 






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Donated by 
The Redemptorists of 
the Toronto Province 

from the Library Collection of 
Holy Redeemer College, Windsor 

University of 
St. Michael's College, Toronto 







Library of St. Francis De Sales 






Bishop of Newport and Menevia. 



The Perfection of Charity is the Perfection of Life."— Book vi. c. 52. 






Many besides myself will have heard with great 
satisfaction that it is in contemplation to prepare a 
complete and careful English translation of the works 
of St. Francis de Sales. The position of St. Francis, as a 
teacher of the Universal Church, has long been assured. 
But the recent Pontifical decree, which has enrolled 
him among those who are formally called Doctors of 
the Church, has directed the attention of all devout 
Christians to a more exhaustive examination of all 
that he has written. Those who use the English tongue 
may well desire to have an adequate English edition 
of a Saint who is one of the great devotional teachers 
of the Church during the time which has elapsed since 
the Council of Trent. 

The two opposite rocks which threaten the soul 
which aspired to devotion used to be put down as 
Jansenism on the one hand, and laxity on the other. 
Jansenism is not perhaps a living danger in these days. 
The winter of its bitter reign has gradually given way 
before the warmth of the teachings of St. Alphonsus. 
No more powerful element can be found in modern 
spiritual activity than the devotion to the Sacred 
Humanity of Our Lord which is enforced by this great 

vi Preface. 

Saint. Besides bringing back the children of the 
Church out of the cold into the warmth and familiarity 
of their Father's house, it has done much to preserve 
devotion from degenerating into mere duty, or the 
worship of principle, or love of one another, or self- 
respect — developments to which the advance of self- 
consciousness has given great prominence. It has 
encouraged the simple by the thought that the highest 
form of religious worship is easily within their reach,, 
and it has reminded the learned and the educated that 
child-like devotion to the Incarnation and Passion of 
our Saviour is for the vast majority the only safe path. 
St. Francis de Sales, it is needless to say, wrote before 
Jansenism had infected devotion. Neither did he write 
and preach against laxity of morals, or licentiousness. 
He made war against sin, without doubt, as other 
preachers have done. But his special work was not 
denunciation of evil or the threatening of the fires of 
hell. He was like some serene and clear-eyed mes- 
senger from heaven who alights upon a confusion and 
chaos, and whose gentle look and magic voice bring 
back order and a new harmony. His task was the 
simplification of Christian devotion. In other words, 
it was the shortening of the Christian's path to his 
last end. 

Nothing is gained by exaggerating the state into 
which devotion had fallen at the appearance in the 
world of St. Francis de Sales. The Church never 
grows old, and the influence of the Holy Spirit reigns 
and rules in every age. When Francis was writing; 

Preface. vii 

those fugitive letters to Madame de Charmoisy which 
he afterwards expanded into the Introduction a la vie 
devote, the writings of great modern spiritual teachers 
were already known to the world. The works of Louis 
of Granada, of St. Theresa, and of St. John of the 
Cross circulated, at least on this side of the Alps. 
In the preface to the treatise De V Amour de Dieu, 
he himself gives a list of a dozen authors who had 
written devoutly and learnedly on the very subject 
he was going to treat. The names of more than half 
of these are almost unknown at the present day ; but 
the mere enumeration proves that spiritual subjects 
were understood, and well understood, in the early 
years of the seventeenth century. Not to speak of 
the " Imitation of Christ," we must not forget that the 
" Spiritual Combat" was at that very time coming into 
use in every part of Europe from Spain to Southern Italy.. 
The special evil of the time was not that devotion was not 
correctly understood by those whose office it was to teach 
it ; it was this — that, in French countries at least, few 
understood what to say about the ordinary lives of the 
noble and the gentle. On the one hand, there was a 
feeling among the best ecclesiastics that Court life was 
beyond redemption or improvement. On the other 
hand, the Catholic religion was upheld by the State ; 
its Bishops were great personages, its festivals were 
honoured, its functions and ceremonies were largely 
attended, and many of its preachers were followed by 
a fashionable crowd. The noble gentleman or lady 
therefore, who wished to " follow the Court," and yet 

viii Preface, 

to be a good Christian, had great difficulty in knowing 
how to behave. Many confessors would hardly give 
them absolution ; whilst others were too easy and let 
them do as they pleased. Court life — or in other 
words, a life of ease, wealth, distinction and refine- 
ment — was, and is, a necessity. No doubt such a life 
is full of danger. But the worst possible result that 
could ensue would be to drive a whole class into reck- 
lessness by telling them they could not possibly be 
saved. And hardly better could it be to encourage 
worldly men and women, who merely went to Mass 
and to fashionable sermons, in the idea that such ex- 
ternal practices were real religion. It was to prevent, 
or put a stop to, these two nearly related evils that 
St. Francis de Sales wrote and preached. He has been 
slightingly called the Apostle of the " upper classes/' 
The phrase sounds odious enough; but in his days it 
was very significant. And when we remember that it 
was chiefly to make a gentleman a true and humble 
Christian that he exercised his Apostolate, we need not 
object to giving him the title. Christianity is a great 
leveller of class distinctions ; and no one has shown 
men more clearly that they are all brothers in God and 
in Christ than St. Francis. 

There is a letter of his,* addressed to a young gen- 
tleman who was about to enter upon " Court life," 
which contains all St. Francis's mind on this subject. 
It was written in 1 6 1 o, that is, about two years after 
the publication of the Introduction, when his thought 
* See Book IV. 2. 

Preface. ix 

was mature and his idea had been well thought 
out : — 

" Sir/' he begins, " you are about to hoist sail and 
venture on the high seas of this world ; you are going 

to Court I am not so frightened as some people 

are. I do not consider such a state of life as abso- 
lutely the most dangerous of any, for persons of mag- 
nanimity and true manliness." Then, after giving him 
various points of advice, he brings in (as he almost 
inevitably does on such occasions) the example of his 
model and hero, St. Louis of France : " Imagine that 
you were a courtier of St. Louis. Well did the holy 
king like a man to be brave, courageous, generous, 
good-humoured, courteous, polite, candid, and refined; 
but he liked him to be a Christian far better. Had 
you been near him you would have seen him laugh 
amiably when there was occasion for it, and speak out 
boldly when it was needful ; he would have taken care 
that all his surroundings were noble and dignified, like 
a second Solomon, in order that the royal dignity 
might be kept up ; and a moment afterwards he would 
have been seen serving the poor in the hospital ; in a 
word, he joined civil virtue with Christian virtue, and 
allied majesty with humility. The truth is, one must 
understand that no one should be less manly because 
he is a Christian, or less Christian because he is a man. 
But to be this he must be a really good Christian — 
that is to say, very devout, very pious, and, if possible, 
a spiritual man ; for, as St. Paul says, the spiritual 
man discerneth all things; he knows when, and in 

x Preface. 

what order, and in what way to practise each different 
virtue as required." This short extract seems to con- 
tain, not an abridgment of St. Francis's spiritual 
teaching, but the very spirit and essence of it all. 
Few, perhaps, have well considered what the benefits 
are which it has conferred upon Christianity in Europe. 
Christianity is intended to sanctify the world, and not 
to abolish the world ; and the world is not, and can 
never be, the cloister. For the generality of men of 
the world the true apostle is he who makes the way 
of perfection as easy and as smooth as it can be made 
without sacrificing safety. This is what St. Francis 
has, by the testimony of the Church herself, done 
better than any other writer. It is true that both 
his language, his form, and his method have a history 
and a pedigree. His language seems to be modelled 
on Joinville's life of St. Louis. His form is that of 
the " Spiritual Combat." His method, with its four 
qualities of familiarity, clearness, unction, and illus- 
tration, is to a very great extent the reflex of his own 
most original and happy genius ; but, if it had a pre- 
decessor, I should be disposed to look for him among 
the Italian Humanists of the sixteenth century. 
Humanism, as far as it affected general literature,, 
mainly consisted in the bringing back into philosophy 
the flowing and conversational method of Plato and 
Cicero in the place of the formal argument of Aris- 
totle and the Schoolmen. It was the substitution of 
talk for proof; easy, polished serious talk, if you 
please, but still talk. One need merely recall the 

Preface. xi 

familiar names of Erasmus, of Sir Thomas More, of 
Fisher (who in happier times might himself have been 
a Francis de Sales), and then recollect that the models 
of these writers flourished in Italy, from Bessarion to 
Angelo Poliziani. When St. Francis, at the end of 
the sixteenth century, studied in Padua, he lived in 
the very midst of a society which made it its pride 
and its boast to model its own literary efforts on the 
wit, the polish, and the gracefulness of the ancient 
Greeks and Romans. There is no doubt that the 
style and method of our holy Doctor was affected by 
these surroundings. But he remained himself, amidst 
all the seductions of humanistic literature. If any 
one takes the trouble to compare the draft of pious 
resolutions which he drew up at Padua with his latest 
spiritual fetters, he will see that the youthful and 
studied elaboration of the former have given way to 
a style equally polished, but strong in that native 
force and mother-wit which were the Saint's own. He 
writes, even in his Amour de Dieu, which is the 
most philosophical of his works, with an ease, a grace* 
and a polish which leave his favourite Seneca far be- 
hind. But the strong, earnest and serious purpose 
which pervades every line prevents the least suspicion 
of fine writing; whilst the intense devotion which 
flames out from his elaborated thought, like the glow 
of mighty furnaces in the night, gives his words that 
precious quality of penetration which is peculiar to the 
words of the Saints. 

This English translation of the works of St. Francis- 

xii Preface. 

de Sales will form an admirable library of devotion for 
all who live in the world. I do not forget how much 
he has written for cloistered souls ; the sweet sim- 
plicity of his teaching is just as admirably fitted to 
sanctify the religious as the man of the world. Whilst 
" devotions" abound and multiply, we are safe in fol- 
lowing the guiding hand of the Vicar of Christ, and 
in taking St. Francis as our master and teacher in 
whatever relates to real " devotion." 

>b J- C. H. 


It is scarcely necessary to say that the " Letters" of 
St. Francis de Sales were published after his death, 
and that therefore the following selection from them 
was not made by the Saint himself. It has been 
made for the benefit of those who have not leisure to 
study the whole body of his correspondence, which 
extends to many volumes. Various editions have ap- 
peared under the title " Letters to Persons in the 
World ;" — we have adopted that of Eugene Veuillot,* 
which is founded on the recent and authentic texts, 
and is further recommended by his personal piety and 
well-known literary taste. His principle of division, 
according to the class of persons addressed, we accept 
when carried out in his broad spirit. The two books 
of " Various Letters" might have been somewhat better 
arranged, and here and there a letter might have pro- 
fitably been substituted for the one actually chosen. 
But we have not let the question of such slight pos- 
sible improvements weigh against the great advantage 
the reader will enjoy of being able to consult with 

* " Lettres de S. Francois de Sales a des Gens du Monde." 
Par M. Eugene Veuillot. Paris: Palme. 1865. Price 5*. (OJ 
Messrs. Burns and Oates.) 

xiv Translator s Notice. 

facility that original text, every word of which is pene- 
trated with the unction of the Saint's style. The only 
aim of our translation is to bring readers as close to this 
as the differences of the two languages will allow, and in 
this view we have not hesitated to risk occasionally the 
sacrifice of some minor propriety of English expression. 
This may be considered the first appearance in our 
language of the letters of St. Francis. A few of them 
may be found forming part of an excellent little work 
called " Practical Piety ;" but they are condensed and 
curtailed. We mention, only to condemn, a book pro- 
fessing to be "A Selection from the Spiritual Letters 
of St. Francis de Sales/'' published by Rivingtons. 
This does not contain true letters of a grand Doctor 
of the Catholic Church, but what an Anglican lady 
thinks proper to give after exercising her private 
theological and literary judgment upon them. They 
are utterly untrustworthy.* Our own translation has 

* Here are a few examples, chosen at hazard, of the misrepresenta- 
tions that abound in this volume. She makes St. Francis utter 
the absurdity and heresy that, " Even in good actions or in faults 
one should strive to remain passive" (p. 356). She translates 
" (Passages of Scripture) necessary for the establishment of the 
faith ; " by " important for the confirmation of the faith" (186). 
Where he speaks of "that infdme Rabelais," she says simply 
" Rabelais." So she omits the word " infallible" in a most im- 
portant passage. She always omits the lists of spiritual authors 
given by St. Francis, and his teaching on many points of the 
spiritual life (such as the use of the discipline, devotion to the 
Saints, &c). She shortens at her own fancy ; reducing, for instance, 
by two-thirds the last letter of Book III., on a rule of life, and 
liberty of spirit, which is perhaps the grandest of all the Saint's letters. 

Translator s Notice* xv 

been executed under the close correction of eminent 

We venture to refer such of our readers as desire 
information concerning some of the persons addressed 
in the letters, and the place these writings hold in the 
teaching of the Saint, to an article on the " Works" 
of St. Francis in the Dublin Review for July, 1882. 
Fuller information will be found in the " Vie de S. 
Francois de Sales/'' by M. Hamon, Cure of S. Sulpice. 




Letters to Young Ladies. 


)*- I.— To a Young Lady. Advice for acquiring 

true sweetness i 

^ II. — To a Young Lady going to Live in Society. 
We must despise the judgments, contempt 
and raillery of worldly people ... 2 
III. — To a Young Lady. The Saint invites her to 
despise the world- She is not to show too 
much wit 4 

^IV. — To a Cousin. Danger of vain and worldly 

conversation ...... 6 

^ V.— To a Young Lady. On Perfection . . 6 
VI.— To a Young Lady. On friendships founded 

in charity 13 

VII. — To a Young Lady. On the cooling of piety. 

(Danger of lawsuits.) 13 

VIII. — To a Young Lady who was thinking of 
Marriage. The married state requires 
more virtue and constancy than any other 16 
IX.— To Mademoiselle de Traves. The Saint 
engages her not to marry, and courageously 
to support family trouble . . . .18 
X— To a Young Lady. The Saint exhorts her 
not to go to law, and recommends the 
method of accommodation. (Pernicious 
effects of lawsuits.) 19 



xviii Table of Contents. 


XI.— To a Young Lady. The Saint endeavours to 
turn her away from a suit which she 
thought of instituting against one who 
had promised to marry her and broken his 

word 26 

XII. — To the Same. Fresh counsels on the same 

subject - 28 

I* XIII. — To a Young Lady. The gift of prayer comes 
from heaven, and we must prepare our- 
selves for it with care ; by it we put our- 
selves in the presence of God. How a 
young person should behave when her 
parents oppose her desire of becoming 
a religious 30 

**• XIV. — To a Young Lady. Whom we are to consult 

about entering religion . . . -33 

i* XV. — To a Young Lady. The Saint invites her to 
follow God's inspiration, and to consecrate 
herself to him 36 

L XVI.— To a Young Lady. The Saint exhorts her 

to give herself entirely to God 27 

V XVII.— To a Young Lady. The Saint exhorts her 
to keep her good resolutions. The best 
afflictions are those which humble us. 
Means to acquire fervour in prayer . . 38 
* XVIII. — To a Young Lady wno found obstacles to 


be always able to say to God : " Thy will be 

^ XIX. — To a Postulant. He praises her for wishing 
to enter the Order of the Visitation . 


7 able of Contents. xix 


Letters to Married Women. 

letter page 

I. — To a Youxg Married Lady. The Saint con- 
gratulates her on her marriage, and gives 
her advice on the duties of her state . . 45 
II. — To a Married Lady. Advantages of a holy 
marriage ; how we ought to live in that 

state 47 

III. — To a Married Lady. The Vintage. — Sweet, 

peaceful, and tranquil love . . .49 

IV. — To Madame, wife or President Brulart. 

True devotion and the practice of it . . 51 
V. — To the Same. Means to arrive at perfection 

in the state of marriage . . . .60 
VI. — To the Same. On the rules which we must 

know how to impose upon our devotion . 64 
VII. — To a Lady. He points out to her remedies 
against impatience in the accidental 
troubles of a household .... 68 
VIII. — To a Lady. Advice on the choice of a 
confessor. Practice for preserving peace 
and gentleness in domestic affairs . . 70 
IX. — To one of his Nieces. Kules of Life . . 73 
X.— To one of his Cousins. On the way we arc 

to act when living with our parents . . 76 
XL — To a Lady. Distance of place can put no 
obstacle to the union of God's children. 
How to behave in uncharitable company. 
Gentleness towards all ... . 78 
XII. — To a Lady, the "Wife of a Senator. He ex- 
horts l:er to give herself entirely to God, 
assuring her that it is the only happiness. 80 
XIII. — To a Lady. On the way to correct human 

prudence 81 

/; 2 

xx Table of Contents. 


XIV. — To two Sisters. The Saint exhorts them to 

peace, gentleness, and concord ... 84 
XV. — To M. and Madame de Forax. The Saint 
congratulates them on the termination of 
law-suits, and exhorts them to a perfect 

union 85 

XVI— To a Lady. Duty of a Christian wife. 

Counsels during pregnancy ... 86 
XVII. — To a Lady. Counsels during pregnancy . 89 
XVIIL— To a Lady in Pregnancy. We must, each in 
our own state, make profit of the subjects 
of mortifications which are therein . . 92 
XIX. — To a Lady, Counsels during pregnancy . 94 
XX. — To the Same. Counsels on the same subject 94 
XXL— To a Lady. The Saint consoles her on her 

childlessness o- 

XXII.— To a Lady. The Saint gives her advice on 
the marriage of her daughter, congratulates 
her on the virtues of her husband, and 
speaks of balls. Distant pilgrimages not 
suitable for women ..... 96 
XXIIL— To a Lady. Whose husband had intended to 

fight a duel IOO 

XXIV.— To a Lady. On the folly of persons in the 

world about duels IOI 

XXV— To a Lady. The Saint consoles her in the 
illness of her daughter, and blames the 
excessive love of mothers for their children 102 
XXVI.— To a Religious of the Visitation. Same 


XXVII.— To a Lady. Parents ought to bless God 
when their children consecrate themselves 
to his service .... ICM 

XXVIII.-To a Lady. The Saint 'congratulates her on 

her daughter entering the Carmelites . 106 
XXIX.— To a Lady. Consolations on the illness pf 

her husband .... io7 

XXX.-T0 a Lady. Same subject as the preceding \ 108 

Table of Contents. xxi 


XXXI. — To a Lady. Same subject .... 109 
XXXII. — To a Beligious who had been Married. 
The Saint prepares her to accept with 
submission the death of her child . .111 
XXXIII. — To a Lady. Consolation to a mother on the 

death of her son in childhood . . . 113 
XXXIV.— To a Lady. On the death of her son . . 115 
XXXV. — To a Lady. Consolation on the death of her 
son. Example of our Lady at the foot of 

the Cross 116 

XXXVI. — To Madame, wipe of President Brulart. 
Consolation on the death of a son who 
died in the Indies, in the King's service . 118. 
XXXVII. — To a Lady. We must not stretch our 
curiosity so far as to wish to know what 
is, after death, the fate of a person we 

have much loved 121 

XXXVIII. — To a Lady. On the too great fear of death . 122 


Letters to Widows. 

I. — To a Cousin. He tells her of her husband's 

death, and gives her spiritual consolations 127 
II. — To an Aunt. Consolations on the death of 
her husband. The perfection of true friend- 
ship is only found in Paradise . .129 
III. — To Madame Ejvolat, Widow. The Saint 

consoles her in the death of her husband . 130 
IV. — To a Lady. Consolation on the death of 

her husband. He speaks of her children . 131 
V. — To Madame de Chantal. Duties of widows 
relatively to their salvation ; means of 
gaining that end 134 

xxii Table of Contents. 


VI.— To the Same. He sands a picture repre- 
senting the little Jesus with Our Lady 
and St. Anne . . • • • • J 37 
YH._To the Same. Humility is the virtue proper 
for widows ; in what it consists. The great 
utility of meditating en the life and death 
of our Lord. Remedies for temptations 
against faith. Advice on the exercise of 

virtues T 39 

YIIL— To Madame the Countess deDalet. Duties 
of a widow towards her parents and 
children. The love of parents has great 
claims x 44 

IX.— To the Same. What assistance children 
who are masters of their fortune and have 
a family owe to their parents . • .148 
X. — To a Lady. The virtues which spring in the 

midst of afflictions are the most solid. . 151 

XI. — To Madame de Chantal. On the choice of a 
Director. Eemedies f ortemptations against 
faith. Eules of conduct for the use of a 
Christian widow. Liberty of spirit . .152 


Letters to Men of the World. 

I. — To a Friend. Way to live in peace . 175 

II. — To a Gentleman who was going to live at 

Court 176 

III. — To a Man of the World. To speak too 

much is the worst kind of ill-speaking . 183 
IV. — To an Author. A magistrate who had sent 

him a book of Christian poetry . . 1 84 

Table of Contents. xxiii 


V.— To a Lord of the Court. The Saint re- 
joices that he preserves piety in the midst 

of the Court i36 

VI. — To a Man of the World. We cannot have 
the true intelligence of the Holy Scriptures 

outside the Church 188 

VII.— To a Gentleman who wished to leave the 

World *9° 

VIII. —To a Doctor. That we must resign ourselves 

to God's will in the death of our parents . 196 
IX.— To Monsieur de Rociiefort. Consolations 

on the death of his son . . . • 1 97 
X— To a Man of the World. Consolations on 

the death of his wife 199 

XI. — To a Friend. He consoles him on the death 

of his brother 201 

XII.— To a Man of the World. The Saint tells 
him what eternal life is, and that we must 
practice the love of God to aspire to it .202 
XIII.— To a Man of the World. On the fear of 

death and of the judgments of God . .205 
XIV. — To the President Freuiot. The Saint en- 
gages him to prepare for death . . . 



Various Letters. 

I. — To a Lady. Consolations and advice to a 

person who had a lawsuit . . ■ 2l S 

II.— To a Lady. Advice during an illness.— We 

must obey the doctor . . . .217 

III.— To a Lady. Sickness may purify the soul 

as well as the body 21 8 

IV.— To a Young Lady who was Sick. Consola- 
tions 2I 9 

xxiv Table of Contents. 


V. — To a Lady. How to behave in great suffer- 
ings 220 

VI. — To a Lady. In this letter and the following 
the Saint exhorts this lady, who was aged 
and infirm, and whom he calls his mother, to 
lift up her desires towards heaven, to love- 
crosses, to have patience and gentleness 
with the persons who waited on her . . 222 
VII. — To the Same. Same subject . . .223 
VIII. — To the Same. Same subject . . . 224 
IX. — To a Lady. It is permitted to mourn the 
dead with moderation and resignation. 
Long sicknesses are advantageous . . 226 
)y X. — To a Eeligious of the Visitation. On want 

of reverence in church . . . .228 
XI. — To a Lady. The way not to offend God in 

the pleasure of the chase . . . . 229 
\/XII. — To Madame de Chantal. Thoughts on the 

renewal of the year 231 

VXIII. — To the Same. Wishes of blessing for the 

New Year 232 

XIV. — To a Lady. Wishes for the New Year . 233 
l<XV. — To Madame de Chantal. Same subject . 234 
v XVI. — To the Same. Same subject . . .236 
yXVII. — To a Superior of the Visitation. The Saint 
tells her how to distinguish true revelations 

from false 238 

y XVIII. — To Madame de Chantal. Considerations on 
the Feast of the Conception of the Holy 
Virgin, and on a Cope which he had re- 
ceived 242 

Table of Contents. xxv 


Various Letters. 


^ I. — To Madame de Chantal. On the Feast of 

our Lord's Nativity 245 

u II.— To the Same. On Temptations and Dry- 
nesses. — Means to repel them, and guard 
ourselves against them .... 247 
u III. — To the Same. Patience in interior troubles. 
— Looking at God. — Not to be precipitate 
in the choice of a state. — Advice on con- 
fession 257 

viV. — To the Same. Great crosses are more meri- 
torious and require more strength . . 266 
u V. — To the Same. Never to forget the day on 

which we returned to God . . .267 

VI. — To the Same. Not to reason with tempta- 
tions, nor to fear them, nor even reflect on 

them 270 

^VII. — To Madame de Chantal. He exhorts her to 

prepare her heart that the Blessed Virgin 

may be born therein, and to unite herself 

closely to Jesus. " The little virtues" . 273 

VIII. — To the Same. We are to carry Jesus Christ 

in our soul 275 

IX.— To a Young Lady. What the courage of 

Christians is 276 

^X. — To Madame de Chantal. Means of passing 

Lent well 278 

{.XL — To the Same. On troubles of spirit . . 280 
XII. — To the Same. We must work with courage 
at our salvation and perfection, whether in 
consolations or in tribulations. — What 
abjection is ; its difference from humility. 
— Action which parents should take with 
regard to the vocation of their children.— 
Advice on temptations.— God wishes to be 
loved rather than feared .... 283 

xxvi Table of Contents. 


XIII. — To the Same. Advantage of interior trials 
for perfection. —God communicates himself 
in afflictions rather than in consolations . 293 
XIV.— To the Same. On the Love of God . . 300 
XV. — To a Lady. Sign of good prayer. Advice 
on this exercise and on the choice of books 
of piety ; on Paschal Confession and Com- 
munion . 307 

XVI. — To a Lady. We must always keep our souls 

in repose before God 309 

XVII. — To a Lady. We must bear our own infir- 
mities with patience. God acts in different 
ways towards His servants. Advice on 
drynesses in prayer. The will of God . 310 
XVIII. — To a Lady. Piety must be solid. We must 
be faithful to it everywhere and in every- 
thing without failing . . . .316. 
XIX. — To a Lady. We must labour to perfect our- 
selves in our state. Advice on Confession 
and Communion . . . . 317 
XX. — To one of his Relatives. He wishes her 

the Love of God 320 

XXI. — To the Same. The Saint exhorts her to be 

faithful to God 322 

XXII. — To one of ins Sisters. To avoid eagerness 
in devotion, and to practise mortifications 
which come of themselves . . . 324 

XXIII. — To Madame de Chantal. It is a great hap- 
piness to keep ourselves humble at the foot 

of the cross 325 

XXIV. — To the Same. On the repose of our hearts 

in the Will of God 327 

XXV. — To a Lady. We must hate our faults with 
tranquillity, and not uselessly desire what 

we cannot have 329 

XXVI. — To Madame de Chantal. The difference 
between putting and keeping ourselves in 
the presence of God . . . . .332 

Table of Contents, xxvii 


XXVII. — To the Wife of President de Herce. He 
consoles her under the motions of the 
passions which she felt and which alarmed 
her. — Nature is not indifferent to sufferings 
in this life : our Lord in his Passion an 
example of this. — Remedy for the out- 
bursts of self-love 335 

XXVIII. — To a Lady. Human respect is blameworthy 
in matters of religion. Advice on interior 

drynesses $3$ 

XXIX.— To one of his Sisters. The Saint recom- 
mends to her gentleness and peace in the 

troubles of this life 340 

XXX. — To a Lady. Of resignation in trials, and of 

Christian mildness 341 

XXXI. — To Madame de Chantal. Resignation to 

God's will. Cure for spiritual troubles . 343 
XXXII. — To a Religious. Different effects and signs 

of self-love and true charity . . . 344 
XXXIII. — To one of his Spiritual Daughters. Effects 
of self-love very different from those of 
fraternal charity * 347 

XXXIV. — To a Superior of the Visitation, his Niece. 
We must serve God at his pleasure, not 

our own 348 

XXXV.— To a Lady. We should not refrain from 
speaking of God when it may be useful. It 
is not being a hypocrite to speak better 
than we act. Advice for a person in 

society 35° 

XXXVI.— To a Lady. We must not be surprised at 

spiritual coldness, provided we are firm in 

our resolutions. — A servant of God . -353 

XXXVII.— To a Lady. God does not give good desires 

without giving the means to accomplish 

them 354 

XXXVIII.— To a Lady. The Saint consoles her on her 

spiritual dryness 35^ 

xxviii Table of Contents. 


XXXIX.— To a Lady. The will of God gives a great 
value to the least actions. We must love 
nothing too ardently, even virtues . 35^ 

XL.— To Mademoiselle de Traves. The Saint 

removes two scruples which she had . 360 

XLL— To a Lady. Merit of the service which we 

pay God in desolations and drynesses . 361 
XLIL— To a Religious of the Visitation. Answers 

to questions on the truths of Faith . . 363 
XLIII.— To a Lady. Of piety in the midst of afflic- 
tions 365 

XLIY. — To a Lady. Purity of Christian affections : 
God is their bond. — The world is insipid to 
those who love God.— Humility must supply 

the want of courage 3^9 

XLV. — To one of his Sisters. The Saint exhorts 
her to live in a great conformity with our 

Lord 371 

XLVL — To the Same. The Saint exhorts her to 
communicate often, and to abandon herself 
to Providence in contradiction . . . 374 
XLVII. — To a Lady. The means to be all to God is 

to crucify our strongest inclinations . . 376 
XLVIII. — To a Superior of the Visitation. God 
regards us with love, provided that we 
have good will. Our imperfections must 
neither astonish nor discourage us . . 377 
XLIX. — To a Lady. A confessor may for various 
reasons withdraw frequent communion 
from certain persons ; this privation must 
be borne with a humble obedience, to make 

it advantageous 380 

L. — To a Lady. The Saint exhorts her to fidelity 
in her spiritual exercises and the practice 
of virtue. How we are to treat our heart 
when it has committed a fault . . . 382 
LI. — To a Superior of the Visitation. Consi- 
derations on the death of the Blessed Virgin 384 

Table of Contents. xxix 


LII. — To a Lady. We must support with patience 
our own imperfections.— Advice on Medi- 
tation. — The judgments of the world . 385 
LIII. — To a Lady. The remedy for calumny is 
not to trouble ourselves about it. Advice 
on confession 389 

LIV. — To a Lady. The consideration of the suffer- 
ings of our Saviour ought to console us in 

our pains 392 

LV. — To a Lady. The Saint recommends her 

peace of the soul and trust in God . . 394 

L VI. — To an Ecclesiastic. Advantage of Christian 
friendship over that of the children of the 
world ........ 396 

LVII. — On humility of heart and ravishments . . 398 
LVIII. — To a Protestant who had asked to have a 

Conference with him .... 400 

LIX. — To Madame de Chantal. The Saint deplores 
the misfortune of a lady who had fallen 

into heresy 402 

LX. — To his Brother, Coadjutor of Geneva. 
About one of their friends who had turned 
Calvinist, and gone into England . . 405 

LXI. — To His Holiness Paul V. On the Vener- 
able Ancina 408 


Letters of the Saint about Himself. 

I. — Monsieur de Boisy, Count de Sales, to 

his Son St. Francis de Sales . . -415 
II.— St. Francis de Sales to his Father. He 

excuses himself for being unable to return 416 
III. — To Madame the Countess of Sales, his 
Mother. He consoles her for his absence 
by the hope of seeing him again . . 4 12 

xxx Table of Contents. 


IV.— To Madame de Chantal. He speaks to 
her of the fruit of his Lent-preaching at 

Annecy, in 1607 A l 7 

V. — To the Same. He encourages her, by his 
example, patiently to suffer, that her gen- 
tleness, in domestic contradictions, should 
be put down to dissimulation . . .419 
YI. — To the Same. He informs her that he is 
going to visit his diocese ; he congratulates 
her on her love for sicknesses ; he promises 

to write often 422 

VII. — To the Same. Sentiments which he felt in 

the procession of the Blessed Sacrament 423 
VIII. — To the Same. Why he was strong before 

great attacks. His relish for prayer . 425 

IX. — To the Same. On the death of his young 
sister, Jane de Sales, who died in the arms 
of Madame de Chantal .... 427 
X. — To the Same. He sends copies of the Intro- 
duction for several persons . . . 432 
XI. — To Madame de Cornillon, his Sister. On 

the death of their mother . . . .435 
XII. — To Madame de Chantal. On the death of 

his mother, and her last moments . . 436 
XIII. — To Madame de'Cornillon, his Sister. The 
Saint consoles her on the death of M. the 
Baron de Thorens, their brother . . 441 
XIV. — To Madame de Chantal. Perfect resigna- 
tion of the Saint 442 

XV.— To the Same. — Profound peace of the Saint 
amidst his affairs. Mark of his humility. 
He permits ladies some innocent recreations 
under the name of balls. He announces 
that he is going to work at The Love of God 443 
XVI.— To the Same. On his soul.— The will . 446 

XVII. — To a Lady.— He blames one of his spiritual 
daughters, who, in speaking of him, said 
extravagant things in his praise . . 449 

Table of Contents. xxxi 


XVIII.— To a Cure of tue Diocese of Geneva. He 
recommends to him the conversion of an 
heretical doctor who was treating Madame 

de Chantal 451 

XIX. — To a Friend. He complains of not being 

able to give himself to study . . -452 
XX. — To an Ecclesiastic. On friendship . .454 
XXI. — To Madame de Chantal, at Paris. The Saint 
expresses his disgust for the court, and for 
the condition of a courtier . . -455 

XXII. — To the Same. Disinterestedness of the 

Saint 458 

XXIII. — To the Same. — Acquiescence of the Saint 

in the divine will 459 

XXI Y.— To M. Favre. The thought of eternity . 461 
XXV. — To a Lady. Contempt of the grandeurs of 

the world. — Desires of eternity. . . 463 

% // 


To a Young Lady. 

Advice for acquiring true sweetness. 

I pray God to bless your heart, my dear daughter, 
and I say to you these words according to my pro- 

You should, every morning, before all things, pray 
God to give you the true sweetness of spirit he requires 
in souls which serve him, and resolve to exercise your- 
self well in that virtue, particularly towards the two 
persons to whom you are most bound. 

You must undertake the task of conquering your- 
self in this matter, and remind yourself of it a hundred 
times a day, recommending to God this good design : 
for I do not see that you have much to do in order 
to subject your soul to the love of God, except to 
make it gentler from day to day, putting your con- 
fidence in his goodness. You will be blessed, my 
dearest daughter, if you do this; for God will dwell 


2 6V. Francis de Sales. 

in the midst of your heart, and will reign there in all 

But if you happen to commit some little failings, 
lose not courage : rather, put yourself straight again 
at once, neither more nor less than if you had not 

This life is short, it is only given us to gain the 
other; and you will use it well if you are gentle to- 
wards those two persons, with whom God has placed 
you. Pray for, my soul, that God may draw it to 

To a Young Lady going to Live in Society. 

We must despise the judgments , contempt and raillery of worldly 
• people. 

My dearest Daughter, — You will often be amongst 
the children of this world, who, according to their 
custom, will laugh at all they see or think they see 
in you contrary to their miserable inclinations. Do 
not busy yourself disputing with them, show no sort 
of sadness under their attacks ; but joyously laugh at 
their laughter, despise their contempt, smile at their 
remonstrances, gracefully mock at their mockeries; 
and not giving attention to all this, walk always 
gaily in the service of God ; and in time of prayer, 
commend these poor souls to the Divine mercy. 
They are worthy of compassion in having no desire 

Letters to Young Ladies. 3 

for honourable company, except to laugh and mock at 
subjects worthy of respect and reverence. 

I see that you abound in the goods of the present 
life ; take care that your heart become not attached 
thereto. Solomon, the wisest of mortals, commenced 
his unspeakable misery by the pleasure he took in 
the grandeurs, ornaments and magnificent equipages 
he had, though all this was according to his quality. 
Let us consider that all we have makes us really 
nothing more than the rest of the world, and that 
all this is nothing before God and the Angels. 

Remember, my dearest daughter, to fulfil well the 
will of God in the cases in which you may have the 
most difficulty. It is a little thing to please God in 
what pleases us : filial fidelity requires that we will 
to please him in what does not please us, putting 
before our eyes what the great well-beloved Son said 
of himself : / am not come to do my ivill, but the will 
of him that sent me* For you also are not a Chris- 
tian to do your own will, but to do the will of him 
who has adopted you for his daughter and eternal 

For the rest, you are going away, and I — I also 
am going away, without any hope of seeing you again 
in this world. Let us pray God earnestly to give us 
grace so to live according to his pleasure in this 
pilgrimage, that arriving at our heavenly country, we 
may be able to rejoice at having seen one another 
here below, and to have spoken here of the mysteries 

* John vi. 38. 

B 2 

4 St. Francis de Sales. 

of eternity. In this alone must we rejoice to have 
loved one another in this life, namely, that all has 
been for the glory of his Divine Majesty, and our 
eternal salvation. 

Keep that holy gaiety of heart, which nourishes 
the strength of the soul, and edifies our neighbour. 
Go thus in peace, my dearest daughter, and God be 
ever your protector; may he ever hold you in his 
hand, and conduct you in the way of his holy will. 
Amen, my dearest daughter. And I promise you 
that every day I will renew these sacred wishes for 
your soul, which mine will ever cherish unchangeably. 
And to God be ever praise, thanksgiving and bene- 
dictions. Amen. 


To a Young Lady. 

The Saint invites her to despise the world. She is not to 
show too much wit. 

I answer your last letter, my good daughter. The 
ardours of love in prayer are good if they leave good 
effects and occupy you not with yourself, but with 
God and his holy will. In a word, all interior and 
exterior movements which strengthen your fidelity 
towards this Divine will are always good. Love, then, 
celestial desires, and desire as strongly celestial love. 
We must desire to love and love to desire what can 
never be enough desired or loved. 

Letters to Young Ladies. 5 

May God give us the grace, my daughter, to ab- 
solutely despise the world, which is so hostile to us 
as to crucify us if we crucify it. But mental abnega- 
tions of worldly vanities and goods are made easily 
enough : real ones are far more hard. And here 
you are amidst the occasions of practising this virtue 
up to its extreme point, since to this abnegation is 
joined reproach, and since it comes on you, without 
you and through you, or rather in God, with God and 
for God. 

You do not satisfy me about what I said to you 
the other day, on your first letter, touching those 
worldly repartees, and that vivacity of heart which 
urges you. My child, determine to mortify yourself 
in this : often make the cross on your mouth, that it 
may open only according to God. 

Truly a lively wit often causes us much vanity ; and 
we oftener show disdain by the expression of our mind 
than the expression of our face ; we give arch looks 
by our words, as well as by the looks themselves. It 
is not good to walk on tiptoe, either in mind or body ; 
for if we stumble the fall is all the worse. So then, 
my child, take good pains to cut off, little by little, 
this excrescence of your spiritual tree ; keep your 
heart very low, very quiet there at the foot of the 
cross. Continue to tell me very frankly and often 
news of that heart, which mine cherishes with great 
love, on account of him, who died of love, that we 
might live by love in his holy death. 

Vive Jesus. 

6 67. Francis de Sales. 

To a Cousin. 

Danger of vain and worldly conversation. 

My dear Child, — Indeed, very dear child, my cousin, 
you must get this poor soul away from risk, for the 
luxurious way of living in the place where it is, is so 
perilous that it is a wonder when a person escapes from 
the midst of it. Alas ! my poor child, you have a right 
to be astonished that a creature should will to offend 
God, for that goes beyond all astonishment : still it is 
done, as we unhappily see every day. The unfortunate 
beauty and grace which these poor worthless girls 
make themselves believe they have, because those 
miserable people tell them so, is what ruins them : for 
they occupy themselves so much with the body that 
they lose care of the soul. So then, my child, .we 
must do what we can, and remain in peace. 


To a Young Lady. 

On perfection. 

Mademoiselle, — I received by my brother one of 
your letters, which makes me praise God for having 
given some light to your mind : but if it is not yet 

Letters to Young Ladies. y 

altogether detached, you must not be astonished. 
Spiritual as well as corporal fevers are generally fol- 
lowed by some returns of the feeling of illness, which 
are useful to the person who is getting better for 
many reasons ; but particularly because they consume 
the remains of peccant humours which had caused the 
malady, so that there may not remain a trace of them ; 
and because they remind us of the evil past, to make 
us fear the relapse which we might bring on by too 
much liberty and license, if the old feelings, like 
threats, did not keep us on our guard with ourselves, 
until our health is perfectly restored. 

But, my good daughter, as you have half got out of 
those terrible paths which you have had to travel, I 
think you should now take a little rest, and consider 
the vanity of the human spirit, how prone it is to 
entangle and embarrass itself in itself. 

For I am sure you will remark that those interior 
troubles you have suffered have been caused by a great 
multitude of considerations and desires produced by a 
great eagerness to attain some imaginary perfection. 
I mean that your imagination had formed for you an 
ideal of absolute perfection, to which your will wished 
to lift itself; but frightened by this great difficulty, 
or rather impossibility, it remained in dangerous travail, 
unable to bring forth, to the great danger of the child. 
Then it multiplied useless desires which, like great 
buzzing drones, devoured the honey of the hive, and 
the true and good desires remained deprived of all 
consolation. So now take a little breath, rest a little; 

8 Si. Francis de Sales. 

and by the consideration of dangers escaped, avert 
those which might come afterwards. Suspect all those 
desires which, according to the general opinion of 
good people, cannot come to effect : such as the 
desires of a certain Christian perfection which can be 
imagined but not practised, in which many take lessons, 
but which no one realizes in action. 

Know that the virtue of patience is the one which 
most assures us of perfection ; and if we must have 
patience with others, so we must with ourselves. 
Those who aspire to the pure love of God have not so 
much need of patience with others as with themselves. 
We must suffer our imperfection in order to have per- 
fection ; I say suffer, not love or pet : humility feeds 
on this suffering. 

The truth must be told ; we are poor creatures; 
and can only just get on : but God who is infinitely 
good is content with our little services, and pleased 
with the preparation of our heart. 

I will tell you what is meant by this preparation of 
heart? According to the Holy Text, God is greater 
than our heart, and our heart is greater than all the 
world. Now, when our heart, by itself, in its medi- 
tation, prepares the service it will render to God — 
that is, when it makes its plans for serving God, 
honouring him, serving our neighbour, mortifying the 
interior and exterior senses, and similar good resolu- 
tions, — at such times it does wonders, it makes prepa- 
rations and gets ready its actions for an eminent 
degree of admirable perfection. All this preparation 

Letters to Young Ladies. 


is indeed nowise proportioned to the greatness of God, 
■who is infinitely greater than our heart; but still this 
preparation is generally greater than the world, than 
our strength, than our exterior actions. 

A soul which considers the greatness of God, his 
immense goodness and dignity, cannot satisfy herself 
in making great and marvellous preparations for him. 
She prepares him a flesh mortified beyond rebellion, 
an attention at prayer without distraction, a sweetness 
in conversation with no bitterness, a humility with no 
outbreak of vanity. 

All this is very good, here are good preparations. 
And still more would be required to serve God accord- 
ing to our duty : but at the end of this we must find 
some one to do it : for when it comes to practice we 
stop short, and perceive that these perfections can 
neither be so grand in us nor so absolute. We can 
mortify the flesh, but not so perfectly that there shall 
be no rebellion : our attention will often be broken 
by distractions, and so on. And must we, for this, 
trouble, worry, excite ourselves ? Certainly not. 

Are we to apply a world of desires to excite our- 
selves to arrive at this miracle of perfection ? No. 
We may indeed make simple wishes that show our 
gratitude. I may say : Ah ! why am T not as fervent 
as the Seraphim, in order better to serve and praise 
my God ! but I should not occupy myself with form- 
ing desires, as if I must in this world attain that 
exquisite perfection. I must not say : I wish it ; I 
will try to get it; and if I cannot reach it, I will be vexed. 

io St. Francis de Sales. 

I do not mean to say that we are not to put our- 
selves in that direction; but we are not to desire to 
get there in one day, that is, in one day of this mor- 
tality : for this desire would torment us, and for 
nothing. To advance well we must apply ourselves 
to make good way in the road nearest to us, and to 
do the first day's journey. We must not busy cur- 
selves with wanting to do the last, but remember that 
we are to do and work out the first. 

I will give you this word, and keep it well : some- 
times we so much occupy ourselves with being good 
angels that we neglect being good men and women. 
Our imperfection must accompany us to our coffin, 
we cannot move without touching earth. We are not 
to lie or wallow there, but still we are not to think 
of flying : for we are but little chicks, and have not 
our wings yet. We are dying little by little ; so we 
are to make our imperfections die with us day by day : 
dear imperfections, which make us acknowledge our 
misery, exercise us in humility, contempt of self, 
patience, diligence ; and in spite of which God regards 
the preparation of our hearts, which is perfect. 

I know not if I am writing to the purpose, but it 
has come to my heart to say this to you, as I think 
that a part of your past trouble has come from this — 
that you have made great preparations, and then, 
seeiug that the results were very small, and strength 
insufficient to put in practice these desires, these 
plans, these ideas, you have had certain heartbursts, 
impatiences, disquietudes and troubles ; then have 

Letters to Young Ladies. 1 1 

followed distrusts, languors, depressions, or failings of 
heart : well, if it is so, be very good for the 

Let us go by land, since the high sea makes our 
head turn, and gives us retchings. Let us keep at our 
Lord's feet, with St. Magdalen, whose feast we are 
celebrating : let us practise certain little virtues proper 
for our littleness. Little pedler, little pack. These 
are the virtues which are more exercised in going 
down, than in going up, and therefore they are suit- 
able to our legs : patience, bearing with our neighbour, 
submission, humility, sweetness of temper, affability, 
toleration of our imperfection, and such little virtues 
as these. I do not say that we are not to mount by 
prayer, but step by step. 

I recommend to you holy simplicity : look before 
you, and regard not those dangers which you see afar 
off. As you say, they seem to you armies, and they 
are only willow-branches, and while you are looking 
at them you may make some false step. Let us have 
a firm and general intention of serving God all our 
life, and with all our heart : beyond that let us have 
no solicitude for the morrow* let us only think of 
doing well to-day ; when to-morrow arrives it will be 
called in its turn to-day, and then we will think of it. 
We must here again have a great confidence and 
acquiescence in the providence of God ; we must 
make provision of manna for each day and no more, 
and we must not doubt that God will rain more to- 

* Matt. vi. 34. 

1 2 St. Francis de Sales. 

morrow, and after to-morrow, and all the days of our 

I extremely approve the advice of Father N., that 
you take a director into whose arms you may be 
able sweetly to lay your spirit. It will be your hap- 
piness to have no other than the sweet Jesus, who, as 
he wishes us not to despise the service of his ministers 
when we can have it, so when that is wanting supplies 
for all : — but only in that extremity, so that if you are 
reduced to that you will find it out. 

What I wrote to you was not to keep you from 
communicating to me by letters, or speaking with me 
about your soul, which is tenderly dear and well- 
beloved to me. It was to extinguish the ardour of 
the confidence you had in me, who, through my in- 
efficiency and your distance from me, can be to you 
but very little use, though very affectionate and very 
devoted in Jesus Christ. Write to me then with con- 
fidence, and doubt not at all that I will answer faith- 

I have put at the bottom of the letter what you 
want, that it may be for you alone. Pray hard for 
me, I beg you. It is incredible how pressed down 
and oppressed I am by this great and difficult charge. 
This charity you owe me by the laws of our alliance, 
and 1 pay you back by the continual memory which I 
keep of you at the altar in my feeble prayers. Blessed 
be our Lord. I beg him to be your heart, your soul, 
your life ; and I am your servant, &c. 

Letters to Young Ladies. 1 3 

To a Young Lady. 

On friendships founded in charity. 

O God ! how far more constant and firm are the 
friendships founded in charity than those whose 
foundation is in flesh and blood, or in worldly 

Do not trouble yourself about your drynesses and 
barrennesses ; rather comfort yourself in your superior 
soul, and remember what our God has said : Blessed 
are the poor in spirit, blessed are they who hunger and 
thirst after justice.* 

What a happiness to serve God in the desert with- 
out manna, without water, and without other consola- 
tion than that of being under his guidance, and suffer- 
ing for him ! May the most Blessed Virgin be truly 
born in our hearts to bring her blessings to them. I 
am in her and in her son entirely yours. 

To a Young Lady. 

On the cooliny of piety. {Danger of lawsuits.) 

13th June, 1620. 
Will that amiable spirit which I saw in you during 
some months, while you were in this town, my dearest 

* Matt, v.3,6. 

14 S*/. Francis de Sales. 

daughter, never come back into your heart? Truly, 
when I see how it has gone out, I am in great per- 
plexity, not about your salvation, for I hope that you 
will still effect that ; but about your perfection, to 
which God calls you, and has never ceased to call you 
since your youth. 

For, I pray, my dearest daughter, how could I 
advise you to stay in the world ? I know the ex- 
cellent disposition which is at the bottom of your 
heart ; but it is accompanied with so strong an incli- 
nation to the grandeur and dignity of life, and to 
natural, human prudence and wisdom, and with such 
great activity, subtlety and delicacy of mind, that I 
should fear infinitely to see you in the world ; there 
being no condition more dangerous in that state than 
a good disposition accompanied by such qualities. If 
we add to this your incomparable aversion to obe- 
dience, there is nothing more to say except that on 
no consideration whatever must you remain in the 

And yet how could I advise you to enter into 
religion, while not only do you not desire it, but your 
heart is entirely opposed to that kind of life ? 

A sort of life then must be sought neither of the 
world nor of religion, without the miseries of the 
world and the constraints of religion. We may just 
manage, I think, that you should have the entree to 
some house of the Visitation, to recollect yourself often 
in the religious life, and still that you should not be 
bound to it. You may even have a lodging near, for 

Letters to Young Ladies, 1 5 

your retreat, with only the tie of some exercises of 
devotion useful for a good life. Thus you will have 
convenience for satisfying your spirit which so 
strangely dislikes submission and the tie of obedience, 
which finds it so hard to meet with souls made to its 
desire, and which is so clear-sighted in finding defects, 
and so sensitive in feeling them. 

Oh ! when I call to memory the happy time when I 
saw you, according to my wish, so entirely stripped of 
self, so desirous of mortifications, so attached to self- 
abnegation, I cannot but hope to see it again. 

As to your dwelling, I leave you the choice of it : 
as for mine I think it will be in your country after 
my return from Rome, which will be about Easter, if 
I go. But make a good choice of place, where you 
can be well helped. 

As you wish it I will treat with Monsieur N. O 
God, how ardently and unchangeably I desire that 
your affairs may be settled without lawsuits. For, 
you see, the money which your suits will cost, will be 
enough to live upon, and what certainty is there of the 
result ? How do you know what the judges will say 
and decide about your cause ? And then you pass 
your best days in this most wretched occupation, and 
will have few left to be usefully employed in your 
principal object ; and God knows if, after a long 
quarrel, you will be able to recall your dissipated 
spirit to unite it to his divine goodness. 

My child, those who live on the sea die on the sea ; 
I have scarcely ever seen people embark in lawsuits 

1 6 St. Francis de Sales. 

who did not die in that entanglement. Now, think 
whether your soul is made for that ; whether your 
time is rightly devoted to that; get M. Vincent, # 
examine well with him all this affair, and cut it short. 

Do not wish to be rich, my dearest daughter ; or at 
least if you can only be so by these miserable ways of 
lawsuits, be rather poor, my dearest child, than rich at 
the cost of your peace. 

You should make a general confession since you 
cannot otherwise soothe your conscience, and since a 
learned and virtuous ecclesiastic advised it. But I 
have no time to write more to you, carried off by 
businesses, and hurried by the departure of this 
bearer. God be in the midst of your heart. Amen. 

To a Young Lady who was thinking of Marriage. 

The married state requires more virtue and constancy 
than any other. 

Mademoiselle, I answer your letter of the second of 
this month, later than I wished, considering the 
quality of the advice and counsel you ask me ; but the 
great rains have hindered travellers from starting, at 
least I have had no safe opportunity till this. 

The advice your good cousin so constantly gave you 

* S. Vincent de Paul. 

Letters to Young Ladies. 1 7 

to remain your own mistress, in the care of your 
father, and able afterwards to consecrate heart and 
body to our Lord, was founded on a great number of 
considerations drawn from many circumstances of your 
condition. For which reason, if your spirit had been 
in a full and entire indifference, I should doubtless 
have told you that you should follow that advice as 
the noblest and most proper that could be offered, for 
it would have been such beyond all question. 

But since your spirit is not at all in indifference, 
and quite bent to the election of marriage, and since 
in spite of your recourse to God you feel yourself still 
attached to it, it is not expedient to do violence to so 
confirmed a feeling for any reason whatever. All the 
circumstances which otherwise would be more than 
enough to make me agree with the dear cousin, have 
no weight against this strong inclination and pro- 
pensity ; which, indeed, if it were weak and slight, 
would be of little account, but being powerful and 
firm, must be the foundation of your resolution. 

If then the husband proposed to you is otherwise 
suitable — a good man, and of sympathetic humour, 
you may profitably accept him. I say sympathetic, 
because this bodily defect of yours* requires sympathy, 
as it requires you to compensate it by a great sweet- 
ness, a sincere love, and a very resigned humility — 
in short, true virtue and perfection of soul must cover 
all over the blemish of body. 

I am much pressed for time, my dear daughter, 

* Manquemeni de faille. 


1 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

and cannot say many things to you. I will end, then, 
by assuring you that I will ever recommend you to 
our Lord, that he may direct your life to his glory. 

The state of marriage is one which requires more 
virtue and constancy than any other ; it is a perpetual 
exercise of mortification ; it will perhaps be so to you 
more than usual. You must then dispose yourself to it 
with a particular care, that from this thyme-plant, in 
spite of the bitter nature of its juice, you may be able 
to draw, and make the honey of a holy life. May the 
sweet Jesus be ever your sugar and your honey to 
sweeten your vocation ; ever may he live and reign in 
our hearts. I am in him, &c. 


To Mademoiselle de Traves. 

The Saint engages her not to marry, and courageously to 
support family trouble. 

&th April, 1609. 
Mademoiselle, — Wishing to honour, cherish, and serve 
you all my life, I have inquired of Madam, your dear 
cousin, my sister, about the state of your heart, of which 
she has said what consoles me. How happy will you 
be, my dear child, if you persevere in despising the 
promises which the world will want to make you, for in 
real truth it is only a real deceiver. Let us never look 
at what it offers, without considering what it hides. It 

Letters to Young Ladies. 1 9 

is true, doubtless, that a good husband is a great help, 
but there are very few, and good as he may be, he be- 
comes more of a tie than a help. You have a great 
anxiety for the family which is on your hands, but it 
would not lessen if you undertook the charge of 
another, perhaps as large. Stay as you are, and 
believe me, make a resolution to this effect so strong 
and so evident that no one may doubt it. The cir- 
cumstances in which you are now will serve you as a 
little martyrdom, if you continue to join your labours 
therein to those of our Saviour, of our Lady and the 
Saints ; who, amid the variety and multiplicity of the 
importunities which their charge gave them, have 
inviolably kept the love and the devotion for the holy 
unity of God, in whom, by whom, and for whom they 
have conducted their lives to a most happy end. 

O that you may, like them, keep and consecrate to 
God your heart, your body, your love, and all your 
life ! I am, in all sincerity, your &c. 

To a Young Lady. 

The Saint exhorts her not to go to law and recommends the 
method of accommodation. (Pernicious effects of lawsuits. ) 

I do not tell you the truly more than paternal love 
my heart has for you, my dearest daughter, for I think 

c 2 

20 St. Francis de Sales. 

that God himself, who has created it, will tell it you ; 
and if he does not make it known it is not in my 
power to do so. But why do I say this to you ? 
Because, my dearest daughter, I have not written to 
you as often as you might have wished, and people 
sometimes judge of the affection more by the sheets 
of paper than by the fruit of the true interior senti- 
ments, which only appear on rare and signal occasions, 
and which are more useful. 

"Well, you ask me for a paper which hitherto I have 
not been able to find, and which M. has not either. 
You wish that if it is not in our hands we should 
send instantly to Rome for a similar one. But, 
my child, I think there has been a change of 
bishop at Troyes ; and if so, then we must know his 

And, without further preface, I am going to say to 
you, without art or disguise, what my soul wishes to 
say to you. How long will you aim at other victories 
over the world or other love for the things you can 
see there than our Lord had, to which he exhorts you 
in so many ways ? How acted he, this Saviour of the 
world ? It is true, my child, he was the lawful sove- 
reign of the world, and did he ever go to law to have 
so much as where to lay his head? A thousand 
wrongs were done him ; what suit did he ever make ? 
Before what tribunal did he ever cite anyone ? None, 
indeed ; yea, he did not will even to cite the traitors 
who crucified him before the tribunal of God ! on the 
contrary, he invoked on them the power of mercy. 

Letters to Young Ladies. 2 1 

And it is this which he has so fully inculcated. To 
him who would go to law with thee and take away thy 
coat, give thy tunic also.^ 

I am not at all extravagant {super stitieux) and blame 
not those who go to law, provided they do so in truth, 
judgment, and justice : but I say, I exclaim, I cry out, 
and, if need were, would write with my own blood, 
that those who want to be perfect, and entirely 
children of Jesus Christ crucified, must practise this 
doctrine of our Lord. Let the world rage, let the 
prudence of the flesh tear out its hair with spite if it 
likes, and let all the wise men of the age invent as 
many divisions, pretexts, excuses, as they like ; but 
this word ought to be preferred to all prudence : And 
if any man would go to law with thee and take away 
thy coat, [en jugement) give him thy cloak also. 

But this, you will tell me, applies to certain cases. 
True, my dearest daughter; but, thank God, we are 
in such case, for we aspire to perfection, and wish to 
follow as near as we can him who said with an affection 
truly apostolic : Having food, and wherewith to he 
clothed, with these ive are content.f And who cried 
out to the Corinthians : Indeed, there is already plainly 
fault and sin in you, for that you go to law with one 
another.% Hearken, my child, to the sentiments and 
advice of this man, who no longer lived in himself, but 
Christ lived in him.§ Why, says he, do you not rather 
suffer yourselves to be defrauded ?\\ Notice, my child, 

* Matt. v. 40. f 1 Tim. vi. 8. J i Cor. vi. 7. 

§ Gal. ii. 20. || 1 Cor. vi. 7. 

22 St. Francis de Sales. 

that he speaks, not to a daughter who aspires after a 
particular manner and after so many inspirations, to 
the perfect life, but to all the Corinthians. Notice 
that he wishes them to suffer the wrong, that there is 
fault in them to go to law with those who cheat and 
defraud them. But what sin ? In that they thus 
scandalize the heathen children of the world, who 
said : " See how Christian these Christians are. Their 
master says : To him who would take thy coat, give also 
thy cloak : see, how for temporal goods they risk the 
eternal, and the tender brotherly love they should 
have for one another/' On this S. Augustine says : 
" Note the lesson of our Lord ; he says not to him 
who would take away a ring, give also thy necklace, — 
both of which are superfluous : but he speaks of the 
tunic and mantle, which are necessary things." 

O, my dearest daughter, behold the wisdom of God, 
bshold his prudence, consisting in the most holy and 
most adorable simplicity, childlikeness, and, to speak 
after an apostolic manner, in the most sacred folly of 
the cross. 

But, thus will say to me human prudence, — to what 
will you reduce us ? What ! are they to tread us 
under foot, to twist our nose, to play with us as with 
a bauble ? Are they to dress and undress us without 
our saying a word ? Yes, indeed, I wish that ; not I, 
indeed, but Christ wishes it in me ; and the Apostle 
of the cross and of the crucified cries out : Until now 
we are hungry, we are thirsty, we are naked, we are 
bvffetted; in fine, we are become the offscouring of the 

Letters to Young Ladies. 23 

world (as an apple peeling, a sweeping up, a chestnut 
skin, or a nutshell)* The inhabitants of Babylon un- 
derstand not this doctrine, but the dwellers on Mount 
Calvary practise it. 

" O," you will say, my child, " you are very severe, 
father, all at once." Indeed it is not all at once, for 
since I have had grace to know a little the spirit of 
the cross, this sentiment entered into my mind, and 
has never left it. And if I have not lived according 
to it, this has been through weakness of heart and not 
through thinking it right ; the howling of the world 
has made me do externally the evil I hated internally: 
and I will dare to say this word, to my confusion, into 
my daughter's ear : I never rendered injury or evil 
except unwillingly (a contre cceur). I do not scrutinize 
my conscience, but so far as I see in the general, I 
believe I speak the truth; and so much the more 
inexcusable am I. 

I quite agree, my child, Be prudent as the serpent,^ 
who despoils himself entirely, not of his dress, but of 
his very skin, to renew his youth; who hides his head, 
says S. Gregory (which is, for us, fidelity to the Gospel 
teaching), and leaves all the rest to the mercy of his 
enemies to save the integrity of that. 

But what am I saying? I write this letter with 
impetuosity, and I have been obliged to write it at 
two sittings, and love is not prudent and discreet, it 
goes violently and in advance of itself. 

You have there so many people of honour, of wis- 
* I Cor. iv. 11, 13. t Mat. x. 16. 

24 6Y. Francis de Sales, 

dom, of loving temper, of piety : will it not be pos- 
sible for them to bring Madame de C. and Madame de 
L. to some understanding which will give you a holy 
sufficiency ? Are they tigers, who cannot be brought 
to reason ? Have you not there M. N., in whose 
prudence all you have and all you claim would be very 
safe ? Have you not M. N., who will certainly do 
you this favour of assisting you in this Christian way 
of peace? And the good Father N., will he not be 
pleased to serve God in your affair, which regards 
almost your very salvation, and quite, at least, your 
advancement in perfection ? And then Madame N., 
should she not be believed, for she is certainly, I do 
not only say very, very good, but also prudent enough 
to advise you in this case. 

What duplicities, artifices, worldly speeches, and 
perhaps lies, how many little injustices, and soft and 
well-covered, and imperceptible calumnies, are used in 
this confusion of suits and procedures ! Will you not 
say that you wish to marry, scandalizing the whole 
world by an evident lie, unless you have a constant 
preceptor who will whisper in your ear the purity of 
sincerity ? Will you not say that you wish to live in 
the world, and to be supported according to your 
birth? that you have need of this and that? And 
what about all this antVnest of thoughts and fancies 
which these transactions will breed in your spirit ? 
Leave, leave to the worldly their world : what need 
have you of what is required to live in it ? Two 
thousand crowns and still less will abundantly suffice 

Letters to Young Ladies. 2 5 


for a person who loves our Saviour crucified. A hun- 
dred and fifty crowns income, or two hundred, are 
riches for one who believes in the article of evangelical 

^3ut if I were not a cloistered religious, and only 
associated to some monastery, I should be too poor to 
have myself called my lady by more than one or two 
servants. How ? Have you ever seen that our Lady 
had so much ? What need for it to be known that 
you are of good family according to the world, if you 
are of the household of God ? Oh ! but I should like 
to found some house of piety, or at least give some 
assistance to such a house ; for, being infirm in body, 
they would then more willingly keep me. Ah ! now 
it comes out, my dearest daughter. I knew very well 
your piety was making a plank for self-love, so pite- 
ously human is it. In fact, we do not love crosses, 
unless they are in gold, with pearls and enamel. It 
is a rich, a most devout, and admirably spiritual 
abjection to be regarded in a congregation as foun- 
dress, or at least great benefactress ! Lucifer would 
have been willing to remain in heaven on that con- 
dition. But to live on alms, like our Lord, to take 
the charity of others in our illnesses, being by birth 
and in spirit so and so, this certainly is very trying 
and hard. It is hard to man, but not to the Son of 
God, who will do it in you. 

But is it not a good thing to have of one's own to 
employ at one's will in the service of God ? The 
expression at one's will (a son gre) makes our differ- 

26 St. Francis de Sales. 

ence clear. But I say, at your will, my father ; for 
I am always your child, God having willed it so. 
Well, then, my will is that you coDtent yourself with 
what M. N. and Madame N. think proper, and 
that you leave the rest, for the love of God and the 
edification of your neighbour, and the peace of the 
ladies, your sisters, and that you consecrate it thus 
to the love of your neighbour and the glory of the 
Christian spirit. O God ! what blessings, graces, 
spiritual riches for your soul, my dearest daughter. 
If you do this you will abound and superabound : 
God will bless your little, and it will satisfy you : 
no, no, it is not difficult to God to do as much with 
five barley loaves, as Solomon with all his cooks and 
purveyors. Remain in peace. I am quite unchange- 
ably your true servant and father. 

To a Young Lady. 

The Saint endeavours to turn her away from a suit which she 
thought of instituting against one who had promised to 
marry her and broken his word. 

On the first part of the letter you have written to 
Madame N. and which you wished to be communi- 
cated to me, my dearest daughter, I will say that if 
M. N. made to you no other assertions than those 
you give, and if the matter were before us, we should 

Letters to Young Ladies, 27 

condemn him to espouse you, under heavy penalties ; 
for he has no right, on account of considerations 
which he could and should have made before his pro- 
mise, to break his word. But I do not know how 
things go over there, where often the rules which we 
have in our ecclesiastical affairs are not known. 

Meantime, my dearest daughter, my desire to dis- 
suade you from prosecuting this wretched suit did 
not arise from distrust of your good right, but from 
the aversion and bad opinion I have of all processes 
and contentions. Truly the result of a process must 
be marvellously happy, to make up for the expense, 
the bitterness, the eager excitements, the dissipation 
of heart, the atmosphere of reproaches, and the multi- 
tude of inconveniences which prosecutions usually 
bring. Above all I consider worrying and useless, 
yea, injurious, the suits which arise from injurious 
words and breaches of promise when there is no real 
interest at stake ; because suits, instead of putting 
down insults, publish them, increase and continue 
them ; and instead of causing the fulfilment of pro- 
mises drive to the other extreme. 

Look, my dear daughter, I consider that in real 
truth the contempt of contempt is the testimony of 
generosity which we give by our disdain of the weak- 
ness and inconstancy of those who break the faith 
they have given us : it is the best remedy of all. 
Most injuries are more happily met by the contempt 
which is shown for them than by any other means ; 
the blame lies rather with the injurer than with the 

28 St. Francis de Sales. 

injured. But now, withal, these are my general 
sentiments, which perhaps are not proper in the par- 
ticular state in which your affairs are ; and following 
good advice, taken on the consideration of the par- 
ticular circumstances which present themselves, you 
cannot go wrong. 

I will then pray our Lord to give you a good and 
holy issue to this affair, that you may arrive at the 
port of a solid and constant tranquillity of heart, 
which can only be obtained in God, in whose holy 
love I wish that you may more and more progress. 
God bless you with his great blessings, that is, my 
dear child, God make you perfectly his. I am in 
him your very affectionate, &c. 

I salute with all my heart your father, whom I 
cherish with a quite special love and honour, and 
madam your dear sister. 

To the Same. 

Fresh counsels on the same subject. 

How grieved am I, my dearest daughter, not to have 
received your last letter ; but our dear Madame N. 
having told me the state of your affairs, I tell you 
from my heart, from a heart which is entirely devoted 
to yours, that you must not be obstinately set on 

Letters to Young Ladies. 29 

going to law; you will spend your time in this use- 
lessly, and your heart also, which is worse. 

Faith given to you has been broken : he who has 
broken it has all the more sin. Do you wish, on 
that account, to engage yourself in so ill an occupa- 
tion as that of a wretched lawsuit ? You will be but 
poorly revenged, if after having suffered this wrong, 
you lose your tranquillity, your time, and the peace 
of your interior. 

You could not show greater courage than in de- 
spising insults. Happy they who are left free at the 
cost of the less trying ones ! Exclaim as S. Francis 
did when his father rejected him, " Ah ! I will say 
then with more confidence, Our Father who art in 
heaven, as I have no longer one on earth." And 
you ; ah ! I will say with more confidence : my spouse, 
my love, who is in heaven. 

Preserve your peace, and be content with Divine 
Providence, which brings you back to the port from 
which you were departing. As you were intending 
to act, instead of a prosperous voyage you might have 
perhaps met with a great shipwreck. Receive this 
advice from a friend who cherishes you very purely 
and very sincerely ; and I pray God to load you with 
blessings. In haste, I salute our dear sister. 

30 St. Francis de Sales. 

To a Young Lady. 

The gift of prayer comes from heaven, and we must prepare our- 
selves for it with care ; by it we put ourselves in the pre- 
sence of God. How a young person should behave when 
her parents oppose her desire of becoming a religious. 

Mademoiselle, — Some time ago I received one of 
your letters, which I much value, because it testifies 
to the confidence you have in my love, which indeed 
is really yours, doubt not. I only regret that I am 
very little capable of answering what you ask me 
concerning your troubles in prayer. I know that 
you are where you cannot lack anything in this kind ; 
but charity, which loves to communicate itself, makes 
you ask mine in giving me yours. I will therefore 
say something to you. 

The disquietude you have in prayer, which is joined 
with a very eager anxiety to find some object which 
may content your spirit, is enough, of itself, to hinder 
you from getting what you seek. We pass our hand 
and our eyes a hundred times over a thing, without 
noticing it at all, when we seek it with too much 

From this vain and useless eagerness you can only 
incur lassitude of spirit ; and hence this coldness and 
numbness of your soul. I know not the remedies 
you should use, but I feel sure that if you can pre- 
vent this eagerness you will gain much ; for it is one 

Letters to Young Ladies. 31 

of the greatest traitors which devotion and true virtue 
can meet with. It pretends to excite us to good, but 
it is only to make us tepid, and only makes us run 
in order to make us stumble. This is why we must 
always beware of it, and specially in prayer. 

And to aid yourself in this, remember that the 
graces and goods of prayer are not waters of earth 
but of heaven, and that thus all our efforts cannot 
obtain them. Of course, we must dispose ourselves 
for them with a great care, but a humble and quiet 
care. We must keep our hearts open to heaven, and 
await the holy dew. And never forget to carry to 
prayer this consideration, that in it we approach God, 
and put ourselves in his presence for two principal 

1. To give God the honour and homage we owe 
him ; and this can be done without his speaking to us 
or we to him : for this duty is paid by remembering 
that he is our God, and we his vile creatures, and by 
remaining prostrate in spirit before him, awaiting his 

How many courtiers go a hundred times into the 
presence of the king, not to hear him or speak to him, 
but simply to be seen by him, and to testify by this 
assiduity that they are his servants ? And this end 
in prostrating ourselves before God, only to testify 
and protest our will and gratitude is very excellent, 
holy, and pure, and therefore of the greatest perfec- 

2. To speak with him, and hear him speak to us 

32 SL Francis de Sales. 

by his inspirations and interior movements, and gene- 
rally this is with a very delicious pleasure, because 
it is a great good for us to speak to so great a Lord ; 
and when he answers he spreads abroad a thousand 
precious balms and unguents, which give great sweet- 
ness to the soul. 

Well, my daughter, as you wish me to speak thus, 
one of these two goods can never fail you in prayer. 
If we can speak to our Lord, let us speak, let us 
praise him, beseech him, listen to him ; if we cannot 
use our voice, still let us stay in the room and do 
reverence to him ; he will see us there, he will accept 
our patience, and will favour our silence ; another 
time we shall be quite amazed to be taken by the 
hand and he will converse with us, and will make a 
hundred turns with us in the walks of his garden of 
prayer. And if he should never do this, let us be 
content with our duty of being in his suite, and with 
the great grace and too great honour he does us in 
suffering our presence. 

Thus we shall not be over-eager to speak to him, 
since it is not less useful for us to be with him ; yea, 
it is more useful though not so much to our taste. 
When, then, you come to him, speak to him if you can ; 
if you cannot, stay there ; be seen, and care for no- 
thing else. Such is my advice, I do not know if it is 
good, but I am not too much concerned about it, be- 
cause, as I have said, you are where much better 
advice cannot fail you. 

As to your fear that your father may make you 

Letters to Young Ladies, 33 

lose your desire to be a Carmelite, by the long time 
he fixes, say to God: Lord, all my desire is before you* 
and let him act; he will turn your father's heart and 
arrange for his own glory and your good. Mean- 
while nourish your good desire, and keep it alive under 
the ashes of humility and resignation to the will of 

My prayers which you ask, are not wanting to you ; 
for I could not forget you, especially at Holy Mass ; 
I trust to your charity not to be forgotten in yours. 

To a Young Lady. 

Whom we are to consult about entering religion. 

Annecy, 3rd July, 1612. 
Mademoiselle, — You think that your desire to enter 
religion is not according to God's will, because you 
do not find it agree with that of the persons who have 
the power to command and the duty to guide you. 
If this refers to those who have from God the power 
and duty to guide your soul and to command you in 
spiritual things, you are certainly right. In obeying 
them you cannot err, although they may err and 
advise you badly, if they look principally to any thing 
else than your salvation and spiritual progress. But 
if you mean those whom God has given you for 

* Ps. xxxvii. 10. 

^ D 

34 -SV. Francis de Sales. 

directors in temporal and domestic things, you are 
wrong when you trust them in things in which they 
have no authority over you. If we had to hear the 
advice of our relatives, of flesh and blood, in such 
circumstances, there would be few who would embrace 
the perfection of the Christian life. This is the first 

The second is, that as you have not only desired 
to leave the world, but would again desire it if allowed 
by those who have kept you back, it is a clear sign 
that God wishes your departure, since he continues 
his inspirations amid so many contradictions. Your 
heart, touched by the load-stone, always points to- 
wards the pole-star, though quickly turned aside by 
impediments of earth. For, what would your heart 
say, if unhindered ? Would it not say : Let us go 
from amongst those of the world ? This then is still 
its inspiration ; but being hindered it cannot or dares 
not say thus. Give it its liberty before it speaks, 
for it could not speak better things, and this secret 
it says, so quietly to itself : I should like, I should 
greatly wish to leave the world — this is the true will 
of God. 

In this you are wrong (pardon my straightforward 
liberty of speech) — in this, I say, you are wrong, to 
call what hinders the execution of this desire the will 
of God, and the power of those who hinder you, the 
power of God. 

The third point of my counsel is that you are not 
at all wrong with God, since the desire of retreat 

Letters to Young Ladies. 3 5 

which he has given is always in your heart, though 
hindered from its effect. The balance of your mind 
inclines that way, though a finger is placed on the 
other side to hinder the proper weighing. 

The fourth — that if your first desire has been in 
any way wrong, you must mend it, and not break it. 
I am given to understand that you have offered half 
your property, or the price of that house which is now 
dedicated to God. Perhaps this was too much, con- 
sidering that you have a sister with a large family, 
for which, by the order of charity, you should rather 
employ your property. So then, you must reduce 
this excess, and come to this house with a part of 
your income, as much as is necessary for quiet living, 
leaving all the rest as you like, and even reserving 
the above-named part, after your death, for those to 
whom you may wish to do good. Thus you will 
guard against extremes and keep to your design, and 
all will go gaily, gently, and holily. 

In fine, take courage, and make a good absolute 
resolution ; though it is not a sin to remain thus 
in these weaknesses, still, you lose good chances of 
making progress and of gaining very desirable con- 

I have informed you exactly of my opinion, think- 
ing you will do me the favour not to think it wrong 
of me. God give you the holy benedictions I wish 
you, and the sweet correspondence he desires from 
your heart, and I am in him, with all sincerity, 
Mademoiselle, your, &c. 

D 2 

36 St. Francis de Sales. 

To a Young Lady. 

The Saint invites her to follow God's inspiration, and to 
consecrate herself to him. 


Mademoiselle, — You made me promise, and I faith- 
fully keep my word. I beg God to give you his holy 
strength, generously to break all the ties which hinder 
your heart from following his heavenly attractions. 
My God ! the truth must be told ; it is sad to see a 
dear little bee, caught in the vile web of spiders. 
But, if a favourable wind break this frail net and 
cruel threads, why should not this dear little bee 
loosen itself and get out, and hasten to make its sweet 
honey ? 

You see, dearest daughter, my thoughts : make 
yours known to this Saviour who calls you. I can- 
not help loving your soul, which I know to be good, 
and cannot but wish it that most desirable gift — the 
love of generous perfection. I remember the tears 
you shed when, saying to you Adieu (A-Dieu, liter- 
ally, to God), I wished you to be A-Dieu. And you, 
to be more A-Dieu, said Adieu to all that is not for 
God {pour Dieu). Meanwhile I assure you, my 
dearest daughter, that I am greatly your servant in 

Letters to Young Ladies. 37 

To a Young Lady. 

The Saint exhorts her to give herself entirely to God. 

The Eve of our Lady's, &th Sej)te?)ider y 1619. 
My Dearest Daughter, — I say to you with all my 
heart, Adieu; may you ever be "to God" in this mor- 
tal life, serving him faithfully in the pain of carrying 
the cross after him here, and in the heavenly life* 
blessing him eternally with all the heavenly court. 
It is the great good of our souls to be "to God," and 
the greatest good to be only "to God." 

He who is only " to God" is never sorrowful, except 
for having offended God; and his sorrow for that 
dwells in a deep, but tranquil and peaceful humility 
and submission. Then he raises himself up in the 
Divine goodness, by a sweet and perfect confidence, 
without annoyance or bitterness. 

He who is " to God" only, seeks him only ; and 
because God is not less in adversity than prosperity, 
such a one remains at peace in adversity. 

He who is " to God" only, often thinks of him 
amidst all the occupations of this life. 

He who is " to God" only, wishes every one to 
know whom he serves, and tries to take the means 
proper for remaining united to him. 

Be then all " to God," my dearest daughter, and be 
only his, only wishing to please him, and his creatures 
in him, according to him, and for him. What greater 

38 £V. Francis de Sales. 

blessing can I wish you ? Thus, then, by this desire, 
which I will unceasingly make for your soul, my 
dearest daughter, I say to you " A-Dieu ;" and praying 
you often to recommend me to his mercy, I remain 
your, &c. 

To a Young Lady. 

The Saint exhorts her to keep her good resolutions. The best 
afflictions are those which humble us. Means to acquire 
fervour in prayer. 

Mademoiselle, — I will gladly keep the copy of your 
vow, and God will keep the fulfilment of it. He was 
its author, and he will be its keeper. I will often 
make for this end St. Augustine's prayer : Alas ! Lord, 
here is a little chicken hidden under the wings of your 
grace : if it gets out of the shadow of its mother the 
kite will seize it. Let it then live by the help and 
protection of the grace which brought it forth. But 
look, my sister, you must not even think whether this 
resolution will be lasting; this must be held as so 
certain and settled that there can no longer be any 
doubt of it. 

You do me a great favour in telling me a word 
about your inclinations. However slight these may 
be, they injure our soul, when they are ill regulated. 
Keep them in check, and do not think them of small 

Letters to Young Ladies. 39 

account; for they are of much weight, in the scales 
of the sanctuary. 

The desire to avoid occasions is not to be gratified 
in this matter ; for it makes us give up real earnestness 
in fighting. This latter is a necessity, while the former 
is impossible ; moreover, where there is no danger of 
mortal sin, we must not flee, but must conquer all our 
enemies, and keep on, not losing heart, even if some- 
times beaten. 

Yes, truly, my dear daughter, expect from me all 
that you can expect from a true father; for I have, 
indeed, just such affection for you ; you will know it 
as we advance, God helping. 

So then, my good daughter, here you are afflicted, 
in just the proper way to serve God. Afflictions with- 
out abjection often puff the heart up instead of hum- 
bling it, but when we suffer evil without honour, or 
when dishonour itself, contempt and abjection are our 
evil, what occasions have we of exercising patience, 
humility, modesty, and sweetness of heart ! 

The glorious St. Paul rejoiced, and with a holy, and 
glorious humility, in that he and his companions were 
esteemed as the sweepings and rakings of the world. 
You have still, you tell me, a very lively sense of 
injuries ; but, my dear daughter, this u still," what 
does it refer to? Have you already done much in 
conquering those enemies ? I mean by this to remind 
you that we must have good courage and a good heart 
to do better in the future, since we are only beginning, 
though we have a good desire to do well. 

40 St. Francis de Sales. 

In order to become fervent in prayer, desire very 
much to be so, willingly read the praises of prayer, 
which are given in many books, in Granada, the 
beginning of Bellintam, and elsewhere; because the 
appetite for food makes us very pleased to eat it. 

You are very happy, my child, in having devoted 
yourself to God. Do you remember what St. Francis 
said when his father stripped him before the Bishop of 
Assisi ? " Now, therefore, I can well say : ( Our father 
who art in heaven/ " David says : My father and 
mother have left me, but the Lord has taken me up* 
Make no apology for writing to me, there is no 
need, since I am, so willingly, devoted to your soul. 
May God bless it with his great blessings and make it 
all his ! 


To a Young Lady who found obstacles to her 


We must de always able to say to God : u Thy will de done." 

Mademoiselle, — You should resign yourself entirely 
into the hands of the good God, who, when you have 
done your little duty about this inspiration and design 
which you have, will be pleased with whatever you do, 
even if it be much less. In a word, vou must have 
* Ps. xxvi. 10. 

Letters to Young Ladies. 41 

courage to do everything to become a religious, since 
God gives you such a desire : but if after all your 
efforts you cannot succeed, you could not please our 
Lord more than by sacrificing to him your will, and 
remaining in tranquillity, humility, and devotion, en- 
tirely conformed and submissive to his divine will and 
good pleasure, which you will recognize clearly enough 
when, having done your best, you cannot fulfil your 

For our good God sometimes tries our courage and 
our love, depriving us of the things which seem to us, 
and which really are, very good for the soul ; and if he 
sees us ardent in their pursuit, and yet humble, tran- 
quil, and resigned to the doing without and to the 
privation of the thing sought, he gives us blessings 
greater in the privation than in the possession of the 
thing desired ; for in all, and everywhere, God loves 
those who with good heart, and simply, on all occa- 
sions, and in all events, can say to him, 



To a Postulant. 
He praises her for wishing to enter the Order of the Visitation. 

Annecy, 6th March, 1622. 
I have never seen you, my dearest daughter, so far as 
I know, except upon the mountain of Calvary, where 
reside the hearts which the heavenly Spouse favours 

42 St. Francis de Sales. 

with his divine loves. O how happy are you, my 
dearest daughter, so faithfully and lovingly to have 
chosen this dwelling-place to adore the crucified Jesus 
in this life ! For thus you are assured of adoring 
Jesus Christ glorified in the next. 

But, look you, the inhabitants of this hill must be 
despoiled of all worldly habits and affections, as their 
king was of the garments which he wore when he got 
there. These, though they had been holy, had been 
profaned when the executioners stripped them off in 
the house of Pilate. 

Beware, my dear child, of entering into the banquet 
of the cross, a thousand thousand times more delicious 
than secular marriage feasts, without the pure white 
robe, clear of all intention save to please the Lamb. 
O my dear child, how lovely is heaven's eternity, and 
how miserable are the moments of earth ! Aspire con- 
tinually to this eternity, and boldly despise this failing 
scene, and the moments of this mortality. 

Let not yourself be misled by fears of past errors, or 
of future hardships in this crucified life of religion. 
Say not : how can I forget the world and the things 
of the world ? For your heavenly Father knows that 
you have need of this oblivion, and will give it to you 
if, as a daughter of confidence, you throw yourself into 
his arms entirely and faithfully. 

Our mother, your superior, writes to me that you 
have very good natural inclinations. My child, they 
are goods, for the management of which you will have 
to give account; be careful to use them in the service 

Letters to Young Ladies. 43 

of him who has given them to you. Plant on this 
wild stock the grafts of the eternal love which God is 
ready to give you, if by perfect abnegation of self you 
dispose yourself to receive them. All the rest I have 
said to our mother. To you I have no more to say, 
save that, as God wills it, I am with all my heart, 
your, &c. 


To a Young Married Lady. 

The Saint congratulates her on her marriage, and gives her advice 
on the duties of her state. 

1 2th March 1613. 
May God be blessed and glorified in this change of 
state which you have made for his name, my dearest 
daughter ; and I still say dearest daughter because this 
change changes nothing in the truly paternal affection 
which I have given to you. You will find that if you 
have a perfect resignation of your soul to the pro- 
vidence and will of our Lord, you will advance in this 
vocation, you will have much consolation, and will be- 
come at last very holy. It was what was necessary 
for your soul, as you have met a gentleman so full of 
good dispositions. 

You are wrong to have a scruple about breaking 
the fast, as the doctor's advice requires it. 

Guide yourself, as regards communion, by the wish 

46 St. Francis de Sales, 

of your confessor ; for you must give him this satis- 
faction, and you will lose nothing ; for what you may 
lack as regards receiving the holy Sacrament, you will 
find in submission and obedience. As a rule of life I 
will only give you what is in the book ;* but if God 
disposes so that I can see you, and if there is any kind 
of difficulty, I will answer you. 

There is no need for you to write me your con- 
fession : if you should have some special point on which 
you want to consult with my heart, which is all yours, 
you can write. 

Be very gentle ; do not live by humours and incli- 
nations, but by reason and devotion. Love your 
husband tenderly, as having been given to you by the 
hand of our Lord. 

Be very humble towards all ; you must take great 
care to bring your spirit to peace and tranquillity, and 
to choke bad inclinations by attention to the practice 
of the contrary virtues, resolving to be more diligent, 
attentive, and active in the practice of virtues ; and 
note these four words that I am going to say to you : 
your trouble comes from this, that you rather fear 
vices than love virtues. 

If you could but stir the deep part of your soul to 
love the practice of gentleness and true humility, my 
dear daughter, you would be admirable ; but it is 
necessary to often think about it. Make the morning 
preparation^ and in general make the spiritual life a 
part of your regular duty ; God will repay you with a 

* The Introduction, f Introd. ii. 10. 

Letters to Married Women. 47 

thousand consolations. But you must not forget to 
often lift up your heart to God, and your thoughts to 
eternity. Read a little every day, I beg you, in the 
name of God ; do so for me, who every day recom- 
mends you to God, and I beg his infinite goodness to 
bless you for ever, your, &c. 


To a Married Lady. 

Advantages of a holy marriage ; how we ought to live in that 

At Lyons, the Eve of our Lady's, Sth September, 161 2. 
Madam, — The hope which I have always had, from a 
year ago till now, of going into France, has held me 
back from reminding you by letter of my inviolable 
affection to your service, as I thought some happy 
chance would give me the means of paying you this 
duty in person ; but now that I hardly any longer hope 
for this good, and this trusty bearer gives me so safe 
an opportunity, I rejoice with you, my dearest 
daughter — for that word is more cordial. 

I rejoice and I praise our Lord for the good and 
happy marriage you have made, which will serve you 
as a foundation whereon to build and erect for your- 
self a sweet and agreeable life in this world, and to 
pass happily this mortality in the most holy fear of 
God, in which by his grace you have been nourished 

48 St. Francis de Sales. 

from your cradle. Everybody tells me that your 
husband is one of the best and most accomplished 
chevaliers of France, and that your union is not only 
formed by a holy friendship which will ever tighten 
it more and more, but also blessed with fertility. 

You must then correspond to all the favours of 
heaven, my dearest child ; for they are without doubt 
given you that you may profit by them unto the glory 
of him that gave them to you, and your own salvation. 
I am sure, my dearest daughter, that you employ your 
strength for this, knowing that on this depends the 
happiness of your household and of yourself, in this 
fleeting life, and the assurance of immortal life after 

Well, now, in this new state of marriage in which 
you are, renew often the resolution we have made of 
living virtuously and holily, in whatever state God 
might place us. 

And if you think good, continue to favour me with 
your filial love, as on my part, I assure you, my 
dearest daughter, that having my heart filled with 
paternal affection, I never celebrate the most Holy 
Mass without very particularly recommending to God 
you and your worthy husband, to whom I am, and 
always will be, as I am to you, Madam, your very 
humble, &c. 

Letters to Married Women, 49 

To a Married Lady. 

TJie Vintage. — Sweet, peaceful, and tranquil love. 

Madam, — I am told that you are well into your vintage. 
God be praised. My heart must tell you a word 
which I said the other day to a lady who is also 
making her vintage, and who indeed is one of your 
dearest cousins. 

In the Canticle of Canticles the Beloved, speaking 
to her Divine Spouse, says that his breasts are better than 
wine, fragrant with precious ointments.* But what 
breasts are these of the Spouse ? They are his grace 
and his promise ; for he has his bosom, amorous of 
our salvation, full of graces, which he lets flow from 
hour to hour, yea from moment to moment, into our 
spirits, and if we will reflect upon it we shall find that 
so it is. On the other side, he has the promise of 
eternal life, with which, as with a holy and pleasant 
milk, he feeds our hope, as with his grace he feeds our 

This precious liquor is far more delicious than wine. 
Now, as we make wine by pressing the grapes, so we 
spiritually make wine by pressing the grace of God 
and his promises ; and to press the grace of God, we 
must multiply prayer by quick, but energetic move- 
ments of our hearts ; and to press his promise we 
must multiply the works of charity ; for it is these to 
* Cant. i. 1, 2. 

50 St. Francis de Sales. 

which God will give the effect of his promises ; / was 
sick, and you did visit me* will he say. All things 
have their season ; we must press the wine in both 
these vintages j but we must press without impatience 
{presser sans s'empresser), take pains without disquie- 
tude. Considering,, again, my dear daughter, that 
the breasts of the Spouse are his side pierced on the 
cross — O God, how twisted a branch is this cross, 
but how well loaded ! There is only one bunch, but 
worth a thousand. How many grapes have holy 
souls found therein by the consideration of the many 
graces and virtues which this Saviour of the world 
has produced there ! 

Make a good and abundant vintage, my dear 
daughter, and may the one serve you as ladder and 
passage to the other. St. Francis loved lambs and 
sheep because they represented to him his dear Sa- 
viour j and I wish that we should love this temporal 
vintage, not only because it is an answer to the 
prayer we make every day for our daily bread, but 
also, and much more, because it raises us up to the 
spiritual vintage. 

Keep your heart full of love, but of a love sweet, 
peaceful, and sedate. Regard your own faults, like 
those of others, with compassion rather than with 
indignation, with more humility than severity. 
Adieu, Madam, live joyously, since you have wholly 
dedicated yourself to immortal joy, which is God 
himself, who wants to live and reign for ever in the 
* Mat. xxv. 36. 

Letters to Married Women. 5 1 

midst of our hearts. I am, in him, and by him, 
your, &c. 

To Madam, wife of President Brulart. 

True devotion and the practice of it. 

gth October, 1604. 
Madam, — It has been an extreme pleasure to me to 
have had and read your letter : I should like mine 
to give you a return of pleasure, and particularly to 
remedy the disquietudes which have arisen in your 
spirit since our separation. God deign to inspire 

I have told you once, and I recall it very well, that 
I had found in your general confession all the marks 
of a true, good, and solid confession, and that I had 
never received one that had contented me so entirely. 
It is the true truth, Madam, my dear sister, and be 
sure that on such occasions I speak very exactly. 

If you have omitted to mention something, reflect 
whether this has been with knowledge and voluntarily : 
for in that case you must certainly make your con- 
fession again, if what you omitted was a mortal sin, 
or if you thought at the time that it was ; but if it was 
only a venial sin, or if you omitted it through forgetful- 
ness or lack of memory, do not be afraid, my dear sister. 
You are not bound, I say it at the hazard of my soul, 

e 2 

52 St. Francis de Sales. 

to make your confession again, but it will do to men- 
tion to your ordinary confessor the point you have 
left out. I answer for it. Again, do not be afraid 
of not having used as much diligence as was required 
for your general confession ; for I tell you again very 
clearly and confidently, that if you have made no 
voluntary omission you have no need at all to make 
again a confession which has really been very suffi- 
ciently made, so be at peace about that matter. And 
if you will discuss the matter with the Father Rector, 
he will tell you the same about it ; for it is the senti- 
ment of the Church our Mother. The rules of the 
Rosary and the Cord oblige neither under mortal nor 
under venial sin, directly or indirectly ; and if you do 
not observe them you no more commit a sin than by 
omitting to do any other good work. Do not then 
distress yourself at all about them, but serve God 
gaily with liberty of spirit. 

You ask me what means you must use to gain 
devotion and peace of soul. My dear sister, you ask 
me no little thing ; but I will try to tell you some- 
thing about it, because my duty to you requires it. 
But take good notice of what I say. 

The virtue of devotion is no other thing than a 
general inclination and readiness of the soul to do what 
it knows to be agreeable to God. It is that enlarge- 
ment of heart of which David said : / have run the way 
of your Commandments when you have enlarged my 

* Ps. cxviii. 32. 

Letters to Married Women. 5 3 

Those who are simply good people walk in the way 
of God ; but the devout run, and when they are very 
devout they fly. Now, I will tell you some rules which 
you must keep if you would be truly devout. 

Before all it is necessary to keep the general com- 
mandments of God and the Church, which are made 
for every faithful Christian ; without this there can be 
no devotion in the world. That, every one knows. 

Besides the general commandments, it is necessary 
carefully to observe the particular commandments 
which each person has in regard to his vocation, and 
whoever observes not this, if he should raise the dead, 
does not cease to be in sin and to be damned if he die 
in it. As, for example, it is commanded to bishops to 
visit their sheep, — to teach, correct, console; I may 
pass the whole week in prayer, I may fast all my life, 
if I do not do that, I am lost .... 

These are the two sorts of commandments which 
we must carefully keep as the foundation of all devo- 
tion, and yet the virtue of devotion does not consist 
in observing them, but in observing them with readiness 
and willingly. Now to gain this readiness we must 
make several considerations. 

The first is that God wills it so; and it is indeed 
reasonable that we should do his will, for we are 
in this world only for that. Alas ! every day we ask 
him that his will may be done ; and when it comes to 
the doing, we have such difficulty ! We offer our- 
selves to God so often, we say to him at every step : 
Lord, I am yours, here is my heart, — and when he 

54 St. Francis de Sales. 

wants to make use of us, we are so cowardly ! How 
can we say we are his, if we are unwilling to accom- 
modate our will to his? 

The second consideration is to think of the nature 
of the commandments of God, which are mild, gra- 
cious, and sweet, not only the general but also the 
particular ones of our vocation. And what is it then 
which makes them burdensome to you ? Nothing, in 
truth, save your own will, which desires to reign in 
you at any cost. And the things which perhaps it 
would desire if they were not commanded, being com- 
manded, it rejects. 

Of a hundred thousand delicious fruits, Eve chose 
that which had been forbidden to her; and doubtless 
if it had been allowed, she would not have eaten of 
it. The fact is, in a word, that we want to serve God, 
but after our will, and not after his. 

Saul was commanded to spoil and ruin all he found 
in Amalek : he destroyed all, except what was precious ; 
this he reserved, and offered in sacrifice, but God de- 
clared that he would have no sacrifice against obedience. 
God commands me to help souls, and I want to rest in 
contemplation : the contemplative life is good, but not 
in prejudice of obedience : we are not to choose at 
our own will. We must wish what God wishes; and 
if God wishes me to serve him in one thing, I ought 
not to wish to serve him in another. God wishes 
Saul to serve him as king and as captain, and Saul 
wishes to serve him as priest : there is no doubt 
that the latter is more excellent than the former : 

Letters to Married Women. 5 5 

but yet God does not care about that, he wants to be 

Just look at this ! God had given manna to the 
Children of Israel, a very delicious meat : and lo ! 
they will none of it, but, in their desires, seek after 
the garlics and onions of Egypt. It is our wretched 
nature which always wishes its own will to be done, 
and not the will of God. Now, in proportion as we 
have less of our own will, that of God is more easily 

We must consider that there is no vocation which 
has not its irksomenesses, its bitternesses, and disgusts : 
and what is more, except those who are fully resigned 
to the will of God, each one would willingly change 
his condition for that of others : those who are bishops 
would like not to be ; those who are married would 
like not to be, and those who are not would like to be. 
Whence this general disquietude of souls, if not from 
a certain dislike of constraint and a perversity of spirit 
which makes us think that each one is better off than 
we ? 

But all comes to the same: whoever is not fully 
resigned, let him turn himself here or there, he will 
never have rest. Those who have fever find no place 
comfortable ; they have not stayed a quarter of an 
hour in one bed when they want to be in another ; it 
is not the bed which is at fault, but the fever which 
everywhere torments them. A person who has not 
the fever of self-will is satisfied with everything, pro- 
vided that God is served. He cares not in what 

56 5V. Francis de Sales. 

quality God employs him, provided that he does the 
Divine will. It is all one to him. 

But this is not all : we must not only will to do 
the will of God : but in order to be devout, we must 
do it gaily. If I were not a bishop, knowing what I 
know, I should not wish to be one ; but being one, 
not only am I obliged to do what this trying vocation 
requires, but I mnst do it joyously, and must take 
pleasure in it and be contented. It is the saying of 
St. Paul : Let each one stay in Ms vocation before 

We have not to carry the cross of others, but our 
own; and that each may carry his own, our Lord 
wishes him to renounce himself, that is, his own will. 
I should like this or that, I should be better here or 
there : those are temptations. Our Lord knows well 
what he does, let us do what he wills, let us stay where 
he has placed us. 

But, my good daughter, allow me to speak to you 
according to my heart, for so I love you. You would 
like to have some little practice to regulate yourself by. 

Besides what I have told you to reflect upon, 

i°. Make a meditation every day, either in the 
morning before dinner, or an hour or two before supper, 
and this on the life and death of our Lord ; and for 
this purpose use Bellintani the Capuchin, or Bruno 
the Jesuit. Your meditation should last only a good 
half-hour, and not more : at the end of which add 
always a consideration of the obedience which our 
* l Cor. vii. 24. 

Letters to Married Women. 57 

Lord showed towards God his father : for you will find 
that all he has done, he did to fulfil the will of his 
Father j and on this make effort (evertusz-vous) to gain 
for yourself a great love of the will of God. 

■2°. Before doing, or preparing to do, things in your 
vocation which are trials to you, think that the Saints 
have gaily done things far greater and harder : some 
have suffered martyrdom, others the dishonour of the 
world. St. Francis and many religious of our age have 
kissed and kissed again a thousand times those afflicted 
with leprosy and ulcers ; others have confined them- 
selves to the deserts ; others to the galleys with soldiers ; 
and all this to do what pleases God. And what do we 
that approaches in difficulty to this ? 

3 . Think often that all we do has its true value 
from our conformity with the will of God : so that in 
eating and drinking, if I do it because it is the will 
of God for me to do it, I am more agreeable to God 
than if I suffered death without that intention. 

4 . I would wish you often, during the day, to ask God 
to give you the love of your vocation, and to say like St. 
Paul when he was converted : Lord, what will you have 
me to do ?■* Will you have me serve you in the vilest 
ministry of your house ? Ah ! I shall consider myself 
too happy : provided that I serve you, I do not care 
in what it may be. And coming to the particular 
thing that troubles you, say : Will you that I do such 
or such a thing? Ah ! Lord, though I am not worthy 
to do it, I will do it most willingly : and thus you 
* Acts, ix. 6. 

58 Si. Francis de Sales. 

greatly humble yourself. O my God ! what a treasure 
you will gain ! greater, without doubt, than you can 

5 . I would wish you to consider how many Saints 
have been in your vocation and state, and how they 
have accommodated themselves to it with great sweet- 
ness and resignation, both under the New and the Old 
Testament. Sara, Rebecca, St. Anne, St. Elizabeth, 
St. Monica, St. Paula, and a hundred thousand others : 
and let this encourage you, recommending yourself to 
their prayers. 

We must love what God loves ; now, he loves our 
vocation ; let us also love it, and not occupy ourselves 
with thinking on that of others. Let us do our duty; 
each one's cross is not too much for him : mingle 
sweetly the office of Martha with that of Magdalen ; 
do diligently the service of your vocation, and often 
return to yourself, and put yourself in spirit at the 
feet of our Lord, and say : my Lord, whether I run 
or stay I am all yours and you mine : you are my 
first spouse ; and whatever I do is for love of you, both 
this and that. 

You will see the exercise of prayer which I am 
sending to Madame du Puy-d'Orbe : copy it, and make 
use of it; for so I wish. 

I think that making half an hour's prayer every 
morning you should content yourself with hearing one 
Mass a day, and reading during the day for half an hour 
some spiritual book, such as Granada or some other 
good author. 

Letters to Married Women. 59 

In the evening make the examination of conscience, 
and all the day long, ejaculatory prayers. Read much 
the Spiritual Combat ; I recommend it to you. On 
Sundays and feasts, you can, besides Mass, hear Vespers 
(but not under obligation) and the sermon. 

Do not forget to confess every week, and when you 
have any great trouble of conscience. As for Com- 
munion, if it is not agreeable to Monsieur your husband, 
do not exceed, for the present, the limits of what we 
fixed at Saint Claude : keep steadfast, and communicate 
spiritually : God will take, as sufficient for the present, 
the preparation of your heart. 

Remember what I have often said to you : do honour 
to your devotion ; make it very amiable to all those 
who may know you, especially to your family : act so 
that every one may speak well of it. My God ! how 
happy you are to have a husband so reasonable and so 
compliant ! You should indeed praise God for it. 

When any contradiction comes upon you, thoroughly 
resign yourself unto our Lord, and console yourself, 
knowing that his favours are only for the good or for 
those who put themselves in the way of becoming so. 

For the rest, know that my spirit is all yours. God 
knows if ever I forget you, or your whole family, in 
my weak prayers : I have you deeply graven in my 
soul. May God be your heart and your life. 

60 St Francis de Sales. 


To the Same. 

Means to arrive at perfection in the state of marriage. 

Madam, — I cannot give you all at once what I have 
promised, because I have not sufficient free hours to 
put together all I have to tell you on the subject you 
want me to explain. I will tell it you at several times : 
and besides the convenience to me, you will find the 
advantage of having time to ruminate my advice 

You have a great desire of Christian perfection : it 
is the most generous desire you can have : feed it and 
increase it every day. The means of gaining perfection 
are various according to the variety of vocations : for 
religious, widows and married persons must all seek 
after this perfection, but not by the same means. For 
to you, madam, who are married, the means are to 
unite yourself closely to God, and your neighbour, 
and to what belongs to them. The means to unite 
yourself to God are, chiefly, the use of the Sacraments, 
and prayer. 

As to the use of the Sacraments, you should let no 
month go without communicating ; and even, after 
some time, and under the advice of your spiritual 
fathers, you will be able to communicate more often. 

But, as to confession, I advise you to frequent it 
even more, especially if you fall into some imperfection 
by which your conscience is troubled, as often happens 

Letters to Married Women. 61 

at the beginning of the spiritual life : still, if you have 
not convenience of confession, contrition and repent- 
ance will do. 

As to prayer, you should apply to it much ; especially 
to meditation, for which you are, I think, well suited. 
Make, then, a short hour every day in the morning 
before going out, or else before the evening meal ; and 
be very careful not to make it either after dinner or 
after supper, for that would hurt your health. 

And to help yourself to do it well, you must pre- 
viously know the point on which you are to meditate, 
that in beginning your prayer you may have your 
matter ready, and for this purpose you may have the 
authors who have treated the points of meditation on 
the life and death of our Lord, as Granada, Bellintani, 
Capiglia, Bruno. Choose the meditation you wish to 
make, and read it attentively, so as to remember it at 
the time of prayer, and not to have anything more to 
do except to recall the points, following always the 
method which I gave you on Maunday Thursday. 

Besides this, often make ejaculatory prayers to our 
Lord, at every moment you can, and in all companies; 
always seeing God in your heart and your heart in 

Take pleasure in reading Granada's books on prayer 
and meditation ; for none teach you better, nor with 
more stirring power (mouvement) . I should like you 
to let no day pass without giving half an hour to the 
reading of some spiritual book, for this would serve as 
a sermon. 

62 £*/. Francis de Sales. 

These are the chief means to unite yourself closely 
to God. Those to unite yourself properly with your 
neighbour, are in great number ; but I will only 
mention some of them. 

We must regard our neighbour in God, who wills 
that we should love and cherish him. It is the counsel 
of St. Paul, who orders servants to serve God in their 
masters and their masters in God. We must exercise 
ourselves in this love of our neighbour, expressing it 
externally : and though it may seem at first against 
our will, we must not give up on that account: this 
repugnance of the inferior part will be at last con- 
quered by habit and good inclination, which will be 
produced by repetition of the acts. We must refer 
our prayers and meditations to this end : for after having 
begged the love of God, we must always beg that of 
our neighbour, and specially of those to whom our will 
is not drawn. 

I advise you to take care sometimes to visit the 
hospitals, comfort the sick, pity their infirmities, soften 
your heart about them, and pray for them, at the same 
time giving them some help. 

But in all this take particular care that your hus- 
band, your servants, and your parents do not suffer 
by your too long stayings in church, by your too great 
retirement, and giving up care of your household. 
And become not, as often happens, manager of others'' 
affairs, or too contemptuous of conversations in which 
the rules of devotion are not quite exactly observed. 
In all this charity must rule and enlighten us, to make 

Letters to Married Women. 63 

us condescend to the wishes of our neighbour, in what 
is not against the commandments of God. 

You must not only be devout, and love devotion, 
but you must make it amiable, useful, and agreeable 
to every one. The sick will love your devotion if 
they are charitably consoled by it; your family will 
love it if they find you more careful of their good, 
more gentle in little accidents that happen, more kind 
in correcting, and so on : your husband, if he sees 
that as your devotion increases you are more devoted 
in his regard, and sweet in your love to him j your 
parents and friends if they perceive in you more 
generosity, tolerance, and condescension towards their 
wills, when not against the will of God. In short, 
you must, as far as possible, make your devotion 

I have written a little paper on the subject of 
the perfection of the Christian life. I send you a 
copy of it, which I want you to communicate to 
Madame du Puy-d'Orbe ; take it in good part, as also 
this letter, which comes from a soul entirely devoted 
to your spiritual good, and which wishes nothing more 
than to see the work of God perfect in your spirit. 
I beg you to give me some part in your prayers and 
communions, as I assure you I will give you, all my 
life, share in mine, and will be without end your, &c. 

64 Si. frrancis de Sales. 


To the Same. 

On the rules which we must know how to impose on our devotion. 

Madam, and my Sister, — I wrote to you six weeks 
ago to answer all you asked me ; and have no doubt 
you got my letter, which will make me more brief in 

According to what you propose to me by yours of 
the 26th September, I approve that our good abbess* 
should begin to fully establish those little rules which 
our Pere has drawn up; not indeed so as to stop 
there, but so as to advance more easily afterwards to 
greater perfection. 

As for our little sister, I leave her to you, and put 
myself in no trouble about her ; only I should not 
like your Father to fear she might become too devout, 
as he has always had fear of you; for I am certain 
she will not sin by excess on that side. My God ! 
the good father we have, and the good husband you 
have ! They are a little jealous for their empire and 
dominion, which seems to them somewhat violated, 
when anything is done without their authority and 
command. What can be done? we must allow 
them this little bit of human nature. They want to 
be masters, and is it not right ? Truly it is, in what 
belongs to the service which you owe them ; but the 
good seigneurs do not consider that in regard to the 
* Of Puy d'Orbe. 

Letters to Married Women. 65 

good of the soul one must believe spiritual doctors 
and directors, and that (saving their right) you must 
procure your interior good by the means judged fitting 
by those appointed to conduct souls. 

But still, you must condescend greatly to their will, 
bear with their little fancies, and bend as much as, 
without spoiling our good designs, you can. These 
condescensions will please our Lord. I have told you 
before : — the less we live after our own taste, and the 
less of choice there is in our actions, the more of 
solidity and goodness is there in our devotion. We 
must sometimes leave our Lord in order to please 
others for the love of him. 

No, I cannot refrain, my dear child, from telling 
you my thought. I know that you will find all 
good, because I speak with sincerity. Perhaps you 
have given occasion to this good father and this good 
husband to mix themselves up with your devotion, and 
to be restive (se cabrer) about it ; I cannot tell how. 
Perhaps you are a little too eager and bustling, and 
you have wanted to bother and restrict them. If so, 
that is without doubt the cause which makes them 
now draw in. We must, if possible, avoid making 
our devotion troublesome. Now, I will tell you what 
you must do. When you can communicate without 
troubling your two superiors, do so, according to the 
advice of your confessor. When you are afraid that 
it will trouble them, communicate in spirit; and be- 
lieve me this spiritual mortification, this privation of 
God, will extremely please God, and will advance 

66 St. Francis de Sales. 

your heart very much. We must sometimes take a 
step back to get a better spring. 

I have often admired the extreme resignation of 
St. John Baptist, who remained so long in the desert, 
quite close to our Lord, without hastening to see 
him, to hear him and follow him ; and I have won- 
dered how, after having seen and baptized him, he 
could let Jesus go without attaching himself to him 
in body, as he was so closely united to him in heart ? 
But he knew that he served this same Lord by this 
privation of his real presence. So I say that God 
will be served if, for a little, to gain the heart of the 
two superiors whom he has appointed, you suffer the 
loss of his real communion ; and it will be to me a 
great consolation, if I know that these counsels which 
I give you do not disquiet your heart. Believe me, 
this resignation, this abnegation will be very useful 
to you. You may, however, take advantage of secret 
opportunities of communion ; for, provided that you 
can defer and accommodate yourself to the will of 
these two persons, and do not make them impatient, 
I give you no other rule for your communions than 
that which your confessors may give you ; for they 
see the present state of your interior, and can under- 
stand what is required for your good. 

I answer also about your daughter : let her desire 
the most holy communion till Easter, since she can- 
not receive it before that time without offending her 
good father. God will recompense this delay. 

You are, as far as I see, in the true way to resigna- 

Letters to Married Women. 67 

tion and indifference, since you cannot serve God at 
your will. I know a lady, one of the greatest souls 
I have ever met, who has long remained in such sub- 
jection to the humours of her husband, that in the 
very height of her devotions and ardours, she was 
obliged to wear a low dress, and was all loaded with 
vanity outside, and except at Easter could never com- 
municate unless secretly and unknown to every one ; 
otherwise she would have excited a thousand storms 
in her house ; and by this road she got very high, as 
I know, having been her father confessor very often. 

Mortify yourself, then, joyously; and in propor- 
tion as you are hindered from doing the good you 
desire, do the good you do not desire. You do not 
desire these resignations, you would desire others ; 
but do those which you do not desire, for they are 
worth more. 

The Psalms translated or imitated by Desportes 
are in no way forbidden or hurtful to you ; on the 
contrary, all are profitable : read them boldly, and 
without hesitation, for there is need of none. I con- 
tradict nobody, but I know quite well these Psalms 
are in no way forbidden you, and that there is no 
cause of scruple. Possibly some good father does not 
like his spiritual children to read them, and perhaps 
he does so on some good ground ; but it does not 
follow that there should not be grounds equally good, 
and even better, for others to recommend them to 
theirs. One thing is certain, that you may read 
them on every proper occasion. 

f 2 

68 St. Francis de Sales. 

As also, you may enter the cloister of Puy-cPOrbe 
without scruple; but at the same time there is no 
cause to give yourself a penance for the scruple you 
had about it, since the scruple itself is a great enough 
pain to those who entertain or suffer it, without im- 
posing any more. 

Alcantara is very good for prayer. 

Keep your heart very wide to receive in it all sorts 
of crosses and resignations or abnegations, for the 
love of him who has received so many of them for 
us. May his name be for ever blessed and his king- 
dom be confirmed for ever and ever ! I am in him, 
and by him, your, and more than your, brother and 

To a Lady. 

He points out to her remedies against impatience in the 
accidental troubles of a household. 

My dearest Daughter, — Whenever I can manage it 
you shall have a letter from me : but at present I 
write to you the more readily, because M. Moyron, 
my present bearer, is my nearest neighbour in this 
town, my great friend and ally, by whom, on his 
return, you will be able to write to me in all con- 
fidence, and if the picture of Mother (St.) Teresa is 

Letters to Married Women. 69 

finished, he will take it, pay for it, and bring it, as I 
have asked him to do. 

But, my daughter, I fancy I did not tell you 
exactly, in my last letter, what I wanted, concerning 
your little but frequent impatiences in the accidents 
of your housekeeping. I tell you, then, that you must 
pay special attention to this, and that you must keep 
yourself gentle in them, and that when you get up in 
the morning, or leave prayer, or return from Mass or 
Communion, and always when you return to these 
domestic affairs, you must be attentive to begin quietly. 
Every now and then you must look at your heart, to 
see if it is in a state of gentleness : and if it is not, 
make it so before all things ; and if it is you must 
praise God, and use it in the affairs which present 
themselves with a special care not to let it get dis- 

You see, my daughter, those who often eat honey 
find bitter things more bitter and sour things more 
sour, and are easily disgusted with coarse meats : your 
soul, often occupying itself with spiritual exercises 
which are sweet and agreeable to the spirit, when it 
returns to corporal matters, exterior and material, 
finds them very rough and disagreeable ; and so it 
easily gets impatient ; and therefore, my dear daughter, 
you must consider in these exercises the will of God, 
which is there, and not the mere thing which is done. 

Often invoke the unique and lovely dove of the 
celestial spouse, that he would impetrate for you a 
true dove's heart; and that you may be a dove, not 

70 67. Francis de Sales. 

only when flying in prayer, but also inside your nest, 
and with all those who are around you. God be for 
ever in the midst of your heart, my dear child, and 
make you one same spirit with him ! 

I salute through you the good mother and all the 
Carmelite sisters, imploring the aid of their prayers. 
If I knew that our dear Sister Jacob were there, I 
would salute her also, and her little Francon; as I do 
your Magdalen, who is also mine. 

Vive Jesus. 


To a Lady. 

Advice on the choice of a confessor. Practice for preserving 
peace and gentleness in domestic affairs. 

My dear Sister, my child, — I answer only the two 
letters which this bearer has given me from you ; for 
the third, sent me by Madame de Chantal, has not yet 
reached me. It is a great satisfaction to me that you 
live without scruple, and that the holy Communion is 
profitable to you ; wherefore you must continue it : 
and on that account, my dear child, since your hus- 
band is uncomfortable about your going to N., do not 
press the matter; for as you have no great things to 
ask about, all confessors will be equally suitable for 
you, even the one of your parish — i.e., M. N. — or when 
you have the opportunity, the confessor of the good 

Letters to Married Women. 71 

Carmelite mothers. You know how to conduct your- 
self with all sorts of confessors : wherefore you can 
act with liberty in this matter. My dear child, con- 
tinue very gentle and humble with your husband. 

You are right not to disturb yourself about bad 
thoughts, as long as your intentions and will are good ; 
for these God regards. Yes, my daughter, do just as I 
have told you ; for though a thousand little deceits of 
apparent reasons rise up to the contrary, my conclu- 
sions are based on fundamental reasons and conform- 
able to the doctrines of the Church : indeed, I tell you 
that they are so true that the contrary is a great fault. 
Therefore, serve God well according to them, he will 
bless you ; and never listen to anything on the con- 
trary side, and believe that I must be very certain when 
I speak so boldly. 

I thank the good Mother Prioress, and I bear her 
with all her sisters in my soul, with great honour and 
love. But, my daughter, there are very many other 
things to ask you about this same devotion to the 
reverend Mother (St.) Teresa ; you must get taken for 
me a life-like portrait of her, down to the cincture 
only, from that which I am told these good sisters 
have, and in passing by there, one of our cures, who 
is going thither in a week or so, would bring it to me 
on his return. I would not act like that with all 
sorts of daughters, but with you I act according to my 

I will recommend to the Holy Spirit the dear 
widowed sister, that he may inspire her to choose a 

72 St. Francis de Sales. 

husband who will always be a comfort to her : I mean 
the sacred husband of the soul. Yet if God so dispose 
as to use her again for the burden of a complete esta- 
blishment, and wishes to exercise her in subjection, she 
must praise His Majesty for it, which, without doubt, 
does all for the good of his own. 

Oh ! my daughter, how agreeable to God are the 
virtues of a married woman, for they must be strong 
and excellent to last in that vocation ; but also, O my 
God ! how sweet a thing it is for a widow to have 
only one heart to please ! After all, this sovereign 
goodness will be the sun to enlighten the dear good 
sister, that she may know what path to choose. She 

is a soul I love tenderly Wherever she may 

go I hope she will serve God well ; and I will follow 
her by the continued prayers which I will make for 
her. I commend myself to the prayers of our little 
daughter N. and of N. It is true that N. is my 
daughter rather more than the others, and T consider 
that all is mine, my dearest daughter, in him who, to 
make us his, has made himself all ours. I am in hiin, 
my dearest daughter, your, &c. 

P.S. — Take particular pains to do all you can to 
acquire sweetness amongst your people, I mean in your 
household ; I do not say that you must be soft an/1 
remiss, but gentle and' sweet. You must think of this, 
when entering or leaving your house, and when in it, 
morning, noon — continually. You must make this a 
chief thing for a time, and the rest, as it were, forget 
for a little. 

Letters to Married Women. 73 


To one or his Nieces. 

Utiles of Life. 

$th March, 1616. 

Think rot, I beg you, my dearest niece, my daughter, 
that it has been from want of mindfulness or affection, 
if I have so long delayed writing to you : for indeed, 
the good desire which I have seen in your soul to wish 
to serve God very faithfully has produced in mine an 
extreme desire to help you with all my power, apart 
from the duty which I owe to you besides, and the 
inclination I have always had for your heart, because 
of the good esteem I have of it since your tenderest 

Well then, my dearest niece, you must cultivate very 
carefully this well-beloved heart, and spare nothing 
which can be useful for its happiness : and though this 
can be done in every season, still this in which you are 
is the most proper. Ah ! what a rare grace it is, my 
dear child, to begin to serve this great God while youth 
renders us susceptible of all sorts of impressions ! And 
how agreeable the offering when we give the flowers 
with the first fruits of the tree. 

Keep always firmly in the midst of your heart the 
resolutions which God gave you when you were before 
him with me ; for if you keep them through all this 
mortal life they will keep you in the eternal. And in 
order not only to preserve them but to make them 

74 SL Francis de Sales. 

happily grow, you have need of no other counsels than 
those I have given to Philothea, in the book of the 
Introduction, which you have : still, to please you, I 
wish to state in a few words what I chiefly want of 

I . Confess every fortnight, when about to receive 
the divine Sacrament of Communion ; and never go to 
either the one or the other of these heavenly mysteries 
without a new and very strong resolution to correct 
more and more your imperfections, and to live with an 
ever greater purity and perfection of heart. And I do 
not say that if you find yourself in sufficient devotion 
to communicate every week you are not to do it, and 
specially if you find that by this sacred mystery your 
troublesome inclinations and the imperfections of your 
life go on diminishing ; but I said every fortnight, that 
you might not put it off longer. 

2°. Make your spiritual exercises short and fervent, 
that your natural disposition may not make prayer a 
difficulty to you on account of the length of it, and 
that little by little it may grow tame to these acts of 
piety. For instance, you should, with inviolable regu- 
larity, make every day the morning exercise marked 
in the Introduction ; well, to make it short, you may, 
while dressing, thank God, by ejaculatory prayer, for 
having preserved you that night, and then make the 
2nd and 3rd points, not only while dressing, but in 
bed or elsewhere, without distinction of place, or actions; 
then, as soon as ever you can, you must put yourself 
on your knees, and make the 4th point, commencing 

Letters to Married Women. 75 

by making that movement of heart which is marked : 
Lord I behold this poor and miserable heart. The 
same for the examen of conscience, which you can 
make in the evening while going to bed, provided that 
you make the 3rd and 4th points kneeling, if not pre- 
vented by any illness. 

So in the church hear Mass with the behaviour of a 
true daughter of God ; and rather than be wanting in 
this reverence, leave the church and go away. 

3 . Learn to make often ejaculations and move- 
ments of your heart towards God. 

4 . Be careful to be gentle and affable to every one, 
but specially at home. 

5°. The alms given in your house, give yourself 
whenever you can : for it is a great increase of virtue 
to give alms with your own hand when it can well be 

6°. Visit very willingly the sick of your district, for 
that is one of the works which our Lord will regard at 
the day of judgment. 

7 . Read every day a page or two of some spiritual 
book, to keep yourself in relish and devotion ; and on 
feasts a little more, which will take the place of a 

8°. Continue to honour your father-in-law, because 
God wishes it, having given him to you as your second 
father in this world ; and love cordially your husband, 
giving him, with a gentle and simple goodwill, all the 
satisfaction you can ; and be good in bearing the im- 
perfections of all, specially those of your home. 

7 6 St. Francis de Sales. 

I do not see that for the present I have any more 
to say, except that when we meet yon mnst tell me 
how you have behaved in this way of devotion ; and if 
there is anything more to say I will add it. Live, then, 
all joyous in God and for God, my dearest child, my 
niece, and believe that I cherish you very perfectly, 
and am entirely your, &c. 

To one of his Cousins. 

On the way we are to act when livinp with our parents. 

10th November, 1616. 
I still want leisure to write to you, my dearest child, 
although I answer your letter tardily. 

Well, now, here you are in your establishment, and 
you cannot alter it ; you must be what you are, mother 
of a family, since you have a husband and children. 
And you must be so with good heart, and with love of 
God, yea for the love of God (as I say clearly enough 
to Philothea), without troubling or disquieting yourself 
any more than you can help. 

But I see well, dear daughter, that it is a little un- 
comfortable to have the charge of the housekeeping in 
a house where your father and mother are ; for I have 
never seen that fathers, and still less mothers, leave 
the entire management to the daughters, although 
sometimes they should do. For my part I counsel 

Letters to Married Women. 7 7 

you to do as gently and nicely as you can that which 
is recommended, never breaking peace with this father 
and this mother. It is better that things should not go 
perfectly well in order that those to whom you have 
so many duties may be content. 

And then, unless I deceive myself, your character is 
not made for fighting. Peace is better than a fortune. 
What you see can be done with love you must do : 
what can only be done with discussion must be left 
alone, when there is question of persons so greatly to 
be respected. I have no doubt there will be aversions 
and repugnances in your spirit ; but, my dearest 
daughter, these are so many occasions to exercise the 
true virtue of sweetness : for we must do well and holily 
and lovingly what we owe to every one, though it may 
be against the grain, and without relish. 

Here, my dearest daughter, is what I can tell you 
for the present, adding only that I conjure you to 
believe firmly that I cherish you with a perfect and 
truly paternal dilection, since it has pleased God to 
give you so complete and filial a confidence in 
me : so then continue, my dearest child, to love me 

Make well holy prayer ; often throw your heart into 
the hands of God, rest your soul in his love, and put 
your cares under his protection, whether for the voyage 
of your dear husband, or for your other affairs. Do 
what you can, and the rest leave to God, who will 
do it sooner or later, according to the disposition 
of his divine providence. To sum up, be ever all 

yS St. Francis de Sales. 

God's, my dearest daughter, and I am in him, all 
your, &c. 

To a Lady. 

Distance of place can put no obstacle to the union of God's 
children. How to behave in uncharitable company. Gentle- 
ness toward all. 

Never think, my dearest daughter, that distance of 
place can ever separate souls which God has united by 
the ties of his love. The children of the world are 
all separated one from another because their hearts are 
in different places ; but the children of God, having 
their heart where their treasure is, and all having only 
one treasure which is the same God, are, consequently 
always joined and united together. We must thus 
console our spirits in the necessity which keeps us out 
of this town, and which will soon force me to set out 
to return to my charge. We shall see one another very 
often again before our holy crucifix, if we keep the 
promises we have made to one another ; and it is there 
alone that our interviews are profitable. 

Meanwhile, my dearest daughter, I will commence 
by telling you that you must fortify your spirit by all 
possible means against these vain apprehensions which 
generally agitate and torment it ; and for purpose 
regulate, in the first place, your exercises in such a 

Letters to Married Women. 79 

way, that their length may not weary your soul, nor 
trouble the souls of those with whom God makes you 

A half quarter of an hour, and even less, suffices for 
the morning preparation ; three-quarters of an hour, 
or an hour for Mass ; and during the day there must 
be some elevations of the spirit to God, which take no 
time, but are made in a single moment. Then the 
examination of conscience in the evening before rest, 
besides grace at table, which is an ordinary thing, forms 
a plan of reunion for your heart with God. 

In a word, I wish you to be just Philothea, and no 
more than that ; namely, what I describe in the book 
of the Introduction, which is made for you and those in 
a similar state. 

As to conversations, my dearest daughter, be at peace 
regarding what is said or done in them : for if good, 
you have something to praise God for, and if bad, 
something in which to serve God by turning your heart 
away from it. Do not appear either shocked or dis- 
pleased since you cannot help it, and have not authority 
enough to hinder the bad words of those who will say 
them, and who will say worse if you seem to wish to 
hinder them; for acting thus you will remain innocent 
amongst the hissings of the serpents, and like a sweet 
strawberry you will receive no venom from the contact 
of venomous tongues. 

I cannot understand how you can admit these 
immoderate sadnesses into your heart ; being a child of 
God, long ago placed in the bosom of his mercy, and 

8o 5/. Francis de Sales. 

consecrated to his love, you should comfort yourself? 
despising all these sad and melancholy suggestions ; 
the enemy makes them to you, simply with the design 
of tiring and troubling you. 

Take great pains to practise well the humble meek- 
ness which you owe to your dear husband, and to 
everybody ; for it is that virtue of virtues which our 
Lord has so much recommended to us : but if you 
happen to fail in it do not distress yourself : only with 
all confidence get up again on your feet to walk hence- 
forward in peace and sweetness as before. 

I send you a little method for uniting yourself to 
God, in the morning and all through the day. So 
much, my dear daughter, I have thought good to tell 
you for your comfort at present. It remains that I 
pray you not to make any ceremony with me, who 
have neither the leisure nor the will to make any with 
you. Write to me when you like, quite freely; for I 
shall always gladly receive news of your soul which 
mine cherishes entirely, as in truth, my dearest 
daughter, I am your, &c. 


To a Lady, the Wife of a Senator. 

He exhorts her to give herself entirely to God, assuring her 
that it is the only hastiness. 

ijth August, 1611. 
Madam, — The remembrance of your virtues is so 
agreeable to me that it has no need to be nourished 

Letters to Married Women. 81 

by the favour of your letters ; nevertheless, they give 
you a new claim on me, as I receive by them the 
honour and satisfaction of seeing not only that you, 
in return, remember me, but that you remember me 
with pleasure. You could not remember a person 
who has a more sincere affection for you. 

I wish you, in presence of our Lord, a thousand 
blessings; and this blessing above all, and for all, that 
you be perfectly his : be so, Madam, with all your 
heart, for it is the great, yea, the only happiness you 
can have. Yet, your husband, the senator, will have 
no jealousy about it, as you will be none the less his, 
and will get the benefit of it, as you cannot give your 
heart to God without his being joined to it. 

I am, Madam, and I am with all I have, 
your, &c. 


To a Lady. 

On the way to correct human prudence. 

I answer the question which the good Mother de 
Sainte-Marie (Chantal) has put to me from you, my 
dearest daughter. When human prudence mingles 
with our plans it is hard to keep it quiet, for it is 
wondrously importunate, and pushes itself violently 
and boldly into our affairs, in spite of ourselves. 

What must we do in this matter in order that our 

82 St. Francis de Sales. 

intention may be purified ? Let us see whether our 
design be lawful, just, and pious ; and if it is, let us 
propose and determine to do it, in order not now to 
obey human prudence, but to accomplish in it the will 
of God. 

We have, for instance, a daughter whom human pru- 
dence recommends to be placed in a convent, on account 
of the state of our family affairs, — well now, we will 
say in ourselves, not before men, but before God, "O 
Lord ! I wish to offer you this daughter, because, such 
as she is she is yours ; and though my human pru- 
dence induces and inclines me to this, yet, Lord, if I 
knew that it was not also your good pleasure, in spite 
of my inferior prudence, I would not do it at all, but 
would reject on this occasion this prudence which my 
heart feels, but which it desires not to consent to, 
and embrace your will, which my heart perceives not 
in feeling, but consents to in resolution." 

Oh ! my dearest child, at every turn the human 
spirit troubles us with its claims, and thrusts itself 
importunately amidst our affairs. We are not greater 
saints than the Apostle St. Paul, who felt two wills in 
the midst of his soul, the one which willed according 
to the old man, and worldly prudence, and this made 
itself most felt, and the other, which willed according 
to the Spirit of God. This latter was less felt, but 
still prevailed, and by it he lived. Whence, on the 
one hand, he cried out, 0, miserable man that I am, 
who will deliver me from, the body of this death ?* and 
* Eom. vii. 24. 

Letters to Mawied Women. 83 

on the other he exclaimed, i" live no more myself, but 
Jesus Christ lives in me* And at almost every step we 
must make the resignation which our Lord has taught 
us : Not my will, but thine, eternal Father, be done,f 
and then let human prudence clamour as much as it 
likes; for the work will no longer belong to it, and 
you may say to it as the Samaritans said to the 
Samaritan woman, after they had heard our Lord, 
It is now no more on account of thy word that we 
believe, but because we ourselves have seen and know. I 
It will be no longer by human prudence, though 
this may have excited the will, that you make this 
resolution, but because you know it pleases God. 
Thus, by the infusion of the divine will you will correct 
the human will. 

Remain in peace, my dearest daughter, and serve 
God well in the pains and troubles of pregnancy and 
bringing forth, which you must also carry out according 
to his good pleasure. And I pray his sovereign goodness 
to heap blessings upon you, begging you to love me 
always in him and for him, who has rendered me in 
all truth your, &c. 

* GaL ii. 20. t Luke xxii. 42. 

J John iv. 42 v 

G 2 

84 St. Francis de Sales. 

To two Sisters. 

The Saint exhorts them to peace, gentleness, and concord. 

Certainly, my dearest daughters, it requires only one 
letter for two sisters who have only one heart and one 
aim. How profitable it is for you, to hold thus one 
to another. This union of souls is like the precious 
ointment which was poured on the great Aaron* as the 
Psalmist King says, which was so mingled of several 
odorous perfumes, that all made only one scent and 
one sweetness : but I will, not dwell on this subject. 

What God has joined in blood and in affection is 
indivisible, so long as this God reigns in us, and he 
will reign eternally. "Well then, my dearest daughters, 
live thus, sweet and amiable to all, humble and coura- 
geous, pure and sincere in everything. What better 
wish can I make for you ? Be like spiritual bees 
which only keep honey and wax in their hives. Let 
your houses be all filled with sweetness, peace, concord, 
humility, and piety by your intercourse. 

And believe, I beg, that the distance of place or of 
time shall never take away this tender and strong 
affection which our Lord has given me for your souls, 
which mine cherishes most perfectly and unchangeably. 
And as the difference of your conditions may require 
that sometimes I write to you in different ways, not- 
withstanding the unity of your design, I will another 
* Ps. cxxxii. 2. 

Letters to Married Women. 85 

time do so ; but for the present I will content myself 
with telling and conjuring you to believe without 
doubting, my dearest daughters, that I am your, &c. 


To M. and Madame de Forax. 

The Saint congratulates them on the termination of law-suits, 
and exhorts them to a perfect union. 

Annecy, 1 1 th November, 1 6 2 1 . 
Thousands of blessings to God, for that at last, Mon- 
sieur my dearest brother, and Madame in every way 
my dearest sister, my child, you are free from these 
troublesome law affairs, in which, as if amongst thorns, 
God has willed the beginnings of your happy marriage 
to be passed. Monsieur N. and I. have made a little 
bonfire for joy, as sharing in all that affects you. 

Well, now, although your pregnancy gives you both 
a little sensible inconvenience (my daughter who feels 
it and my dearest brother who feels it in her), I seem 
always to see you both with two hearts so contented 
and so brave in serving God well, that this very evil 
which you feel consoles you as a sign that not having 
entire exemption from all affliction in this world, your 
perfect happiness is reserved for heaven, towards which, 
I am sure, you have your chief aims. 

O my dearest brother, continue to solace by your 
dear presence my dearest daughter. O my dearest 

86 St. Francis de Sales. 

sister, continue to keep my dearest brother in your 
heart; for as God gives you one to another, be always 
one another's indeed, and be sure, both of you, that I 
am, my dearest brother, and my dearest daughter, 
your, &c. 

To a Lady. 

Duty of a Christian wife. Counsels during pregnancy. 
Madam, — The letter which you wrote me on the 16th 
May, received only on 27th June, gives me great 
cause to bless God for the strength in which he keeps 
your heart regarding the desire of Christian perfection, 
which I find very clearly, in the holy simplicity with 
which you represent your temptations and the struggle 
you make ; and I see well that our Lord helps you, as 
step by step and day by day you achieve your liberty 
and enfranchisement from the imperfections and chief 
weaknesses which have hitherto grieved you. I doubt 
not that in a very little time you will be entirely 
victorious, as you are so brave in the battle, and so 
full of hope and confidence of victory by the grace of 
our good God. 

The comfort you have in this enterprise is without 
doubt a presage that itwill happily succeed. Strengthen, 
then, yourself, Madam, in this good design, the 5 end of 
which is eternal glory; leave nothing behind at home 

Letters to Married Women. . Sy 

which is necessary to gain it; continue your frequent 
confessions and communions : let no day pass without 
reading a little in a spiritual book : and however little 
it be if you do it with devotion and attention the 
profit will be great. Make the examination of con- 
science in the evening : accustom yourself to little 
prayers and the prayers called ejaculatory ; and in 
the morning, on getting out of bed, always kneel down 
to salute and pay reverence to your heavenly Father, 
to our Lady and your good angel ; and if this is only 
for three minutes you must never fail : have some very 
devout picture, and kiss it often. 

I am glad that you have a more joyous spirit than 
formerly. Without doubt, Madam, your content will 
increase every day, for the sweetness of our Lord will 
spread itself more and more in your soul. Never has 
any one tasted devotion without finding it very sweet. 
I am sure that this gaiety and consolation of spirit 
extends its precious perfume over all your occupations, 
and specially over domestic affairs ; which, as they are 
the most common, and your principal duty, so they 
should most smell of this perfume. If you love de- 
votion, make all honour and love it ; which they will 
do if they see good and pleasant effects from it in 

My God ! what splendid means of meriting have 
you in your house ! Truly you can make it a true 
Paradise of piety, having your husband so favourable 
to your desires. Ah ! how happy you will be if you 
observe well the moderation which I have spoken of 

88 6V. Francis de Sales. 

in your exercises, accommodating them as much as 
you can to your household affairs, and to the will of 
your husband, since it is not irregular or savage. I 
have seen hardly any married women who can at less 
cost be devout than you, Madam, and you are there- 
fore very strictly obliged to make progress. 

I should very much like you to make the exercise 
of holy meditation, for I think you are very fit for it. 
I said something to you about it during this Lent; I 
do not know whether you have put your hand to it ; but 
I should like you only to give hall' an hour to it each 
day, and not more, at least for some years ; I think that 
this will strongly aid towards victory over your enemies. 

I am pressed for time, and yet I cannot finish, so 
consoled am I in talking to you on this paper. And 
believe, Madam, I beg, that the desire which I have 
once conceived to serve and honour you in our Lord 
grows and increases every day in my soul, sorry though 
I am to be able to show so little fruits from it ; at any 
rate I failed not to offer and present to you the mercy 
of God in my weak and languishing prayers, and above 
all in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I add also prayers 
for your whole household which I cherish only in you 
and you in God. 

I have learnt that you are pregnant; I have blessed 
God for it, who wants to increase the number of his 
by the increase of yours. Trees bear fruits for man; 
but women bear children for God, and that is why 
fertility is one of his blessings. Make profit of this 
pregnancy in two ways : offering your offspring a 

Letters to Married Women. 89 

hundred times a day to God, as St. Augustine says his 
mother used to do. Then, in the ennuis and troubles 
which will come to you, and which usually accompany 
pregnancy, bless our Lord for what you suffer in 
making for him a new servant, who by means of his 
grace will praise him eternally with you. 

In fine, God be in all and everywhere glorified in 
our trials and in our consolations ! I am, &c. 

To a Lady. 

Counsels during pregnancy. 

29th September, 1620. 
My dearest Daughter, — I am not at all surprised that 
your heart seems a little heavy and torpid, for you 
are pregnant, and it is an evident truth that our souls 
generally contract in the inferior part the qualities 
and conditions of our bodies : and I say in the inferior 
part, my dearest daughter, because it is this which 
immediately touches the body, and which is liable to 
share in the troubles of it. A delicate body being 
weighed down by the burden of pregnancy, weakened 
by the labour of carrying a child, troubled with many 
pains, cannot allow the heart to be so lively, so active, 
so ready in its operations, but all this in no way 
injures the acts of that higher part of the soul, which 
are as agreeable to God as they could be in the midst 

90 St. Francis de Sales. 

of all the gladnesses in the world ; yea, more agreeable 
in good sooth, as done with more labour and struggle ; 
but they are not so agreeable to the person who does 
them, because not being in the sensible part, they are 
not so much felt, nor so pleasant to us. 

My dearest daughter, we must not be unjust and 
require from ourselves what is not in ourselves. When 
troubled in body and health, we must not exact from 
our souls more than acts of submission and acceptance 
of labour, and holy unions of our will to the good 
pleasure of God, which are formed in the highest 
region of the spirit : and as for exterior actions we 
must manage and do them the best we can, and be 
satisfied with doing them, though without heart, 
languidly and heavily. And to raise these languors 
and heavinesses and topors of heart, and to make 
them serve towards divine love, you must profess, 
accept, and love holy abjection ; thus shall you change 
the lead of your heaviness into gold, and into gold 
finer than would be the gold of your most lively glad- 
nesses of heart. Have patience then with yourself. 
Lei your superior part bear the disorder of the 
inferior ; and often offer to the eternal glory of our 
Creator the little creature in whose formation he has 
willed to make you his fellow-worker. 

My dearest daughter, we have at Annecy a Capuchin 
painter who, as you may think, only paints for God 
and his temple : and though while working he has to 
pay so close an attention that he cannot pray at the 
same time, and though this occupies, and even fatigues 

Letters to Married Women. 91 

his spirit, still he does this work with good heart for 
the glory of our Lord, and the hope that these 
pictures will excite many faithful to praise God, and 
to bless his goodness. 

Well, my dear daughter, your child will be a living 
image of the Divine majesty; but whilst your soul, 
your strength, your natural vigour is occupied with 
this work, it must grow weary and tired, and you 
cannot at the same time perform your ordinary exer- 
cises so actively and so gaily; but suffer lovingly this 
lassitude and heaviness, in consideration of the honour 
which God will receive from your work. It is your 
image which will be placed in the eternal temple of 
the heavenly Jerusalem, and will be eternally regarded 
with pleasure by God, by angels and by men ; and the 
saints will praise God for it, and you also will praise 
him when you see it there; and so meanwhile take 
courage, though feeling your heart a little torpid and 
sluggish, and with the superior part attach yourself 
to the holy will of our Lord, who has so arranged for 
it according to his eternal wisdom. 

To sum up, I know not what my soul thinks not, 
and desires not for the perfection of yours, which, as 
God has willed and wills it so, is truly in the midst of 
mine. May it please his Divine goodness that both 
yours and mine may be according to his most holy 
and good pleasure, and that all your dear family may 
be filled with his sacred benedictions, and specially 
your very dear husband, of whom, as of you, I am 
invariably the most humble, &c. 

92 St. Francis de Sales. 


To a Lady in Pregnancy. 

We must y each in his own state, malie 'profit of the subjects 
of mortification which are therein. 

We must, before all things, my dearest daughter, 
procure this tranquillity, not because it is the mother 
of contentment, but because it is the daughter of the 
love of God, and of the resignation of our own will. 
The opportunities of practising it are daily ; for con- 
tradictions are not wanting wherever we are; and 
when nobody else makes them, we make them for 
ourselves. My God ! how holy, my dear daughter, 
and how agreeable to God should we be, if we knew 
how to use properly the subjects of mortification ' 
which our vocation affords; for they are without 
doubt greater than among religious ; the evil is that 
we do not make them useful as they do. 

Be careful to spare yourself in this pregnancy : 
make no effort to oblige yourself to any kind of exer- 
cise, except quite gently : if you get tired kneeling, 
sit down ; if you cannot command attention to pray 
half an hour, pray only a quarter or a half quarter. 

I beg you to put yourself in the presence of God, 
and to suffer your pains before him. 

Do not keep yourself from complaining : but this 
should be to him, in a filial spirit, as a little child to 
its mother; for, if it is done lovingly, there is no 
danger in complaining, nor in begging cure, nor in 

Letters to Married Women. 93 

changing place, nor in getting ourselves relieved. 
Only do this with love and with resignation into the 
arras of the good will of God. 

Do not trouble yourself about not making acts of 
virtue properly ; for as I have said they do not cease 
to be very good, even if made in a languid, heavy, 
and as it were forced manner. 

You can only give God what you have, and in this 
time of affliction you have ho other actions. At pre- 
sent, my dear daughter, your beloved is to you a 
bundle of myrrh :* cease not to press him close to 
your breast. My beloved to me, and I to him, ever 
shall he be in my heart. Isaias calls him the man 
of sorrows. He loves sorrows, and those that have 

Do not torment yourself to do much, but suffer 
with love what you have to suffer. God will be 
gracious to you, Madam, and will give you the grace to 
arrange about this more retired life of which you 
speak to me. Whether languishing or living or dying 
we are the Lord's,\ and nothing, with the help of his 
grace, will separate us from this holy love. Never shall 
our heart live, save in and for him ; he shall be for 
ever the God of our heart ; I will never cease to beg 
this of him, nor to be entirely your, &c. 

* Cant. i. 12. f Rom. xiv. 8. 

94 «5V. Francis de Sales. 

To a Lady. 

Counsels during pregnancy. 
I am just starting, my dearest daughter, and hence 
pressed for time. You must please consider these four 
lines as if they were many. Be sure, I beg you, that 
your very dear soul will never be more loved than it 
is by mine. 

But what am I told? They tell me that though 
pregnant you fast, and rob your fruit of the nourish- 
ment which its mother requires in order to supply it. 
Do it no more, I beseech you ; and humbling yourself 
under the advice of your doctors, nourish without 
scruple your body, in consideration of that which you 
bear : you will not lack mortifications for the heart, 
which is the only holocaust God desires from you. 

O my God ! what grand souls have I found here 
in the service of God ! His goodness be blessed for 
it. And you are united with them, since you have 
the same desires. Live entirely in God, my dearest 
daughter, and persevere in praying for your, &c. 

To the Same. 

Counsels on the same subject. 
My dearest daughter, since your pregnancy troubles 
you very much with regard to your long and ordinary 

Letters to Married Women. 95 

mental prayer, make it short and earnest : make up 
the want by frequent liftings of your soul towards 
God ; often read, a little at a time, some very spiritual 
book ; form good thoughts while you walk ; pray little 
and often j offer your languors and lassitudes to our 
crucified Lord ; and after your delivery, take up your 
course again quietly, and accustom yourself to follow 
the order of some suitable book, in order that when 
the hour of prayer comes you may not be at a loss 
like one who at dinner-time has nothing ready. And 
if sometimes you have no book, make your meditation 
on some fertile mystery, such as death or the passion — 
the first which comes to your mind. 

To a Lady. 

The Saint consoles her on her childlessness. 
Both thoughts are good, my dearest daughter : since 
you have given all to God, you should seek nothing in 
yourself but him, who is without doubt himself the 
good exchanged for the poor little all you have 
given him. O how this will increase your courage, 
and make you walk confidently and simply ! And it 
is well for you to think always that your trouble comes 
from your fault, yet without occupying yourself in 
thinking what the fault is ; for this will make you 
walk in humility. Do you think, my dearest daughter, 

96 6V. Francis de Sales. 

that Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, Anne the mother of 
Samuel, St. Anne, mother of our Lady, and St. Elizabeth 
were less agreeable to God when they were barren than 
when they were fruitful. We must walk faithfully in 
the way of our Lord, and remain in peace as much in 
the winter of sterility as in the autumn of fruitfulness. 


To a Lady. 

The Saint gives Tier advice on the marriage of her daughter, 
congratulates her on the virtues of her husband , and speaks 
of balls. Distant pilgrimages not suitable for women. 

After the 8th Ajwil, 1611. 
It has been to me a great satisfaction to learn a little 
more fully than usual the news about you, my dearest 
sister, my child. Though I have not had enough 
leisure to talk with Madame de Chantal, so as to 
inquire as particularly as I wished about all your 
affairs (about which I think you have communicated 
with her, as with a most intimate friend), still she told 
me that you walk faithfully in the fear of our Lord, 
which is the staple of my consolation, since my soul 

desires so much good to your dearest soul 

Regarding the marriage of that dear daughter whom 
I love very much, I cannot well give you advice, not 
knowing the kind of gentleman who seeks her hand. 
For what your husband says is true, that he might 

Letters to Married Women. 97 

perchance change all the bad habits which you notice 
in him ; that is, supposing him to be of good natural 
disposition, and only spoilt by youth or bad company. 
But if he is of an ill-disposed nature, as only too 
clearly seems the case, certainly it is tempting God to 
risk a daughter in his hands, with the uncertain and 
doubtful presumption of his amendment. And this 
particularly, if the child is young and herself in need 
of guidance ; in which case, unable to contribute any- 
thing towards the amendment of the young man, yea, 
there being fear rather that one will be cause of ruin 
to the other, what is there in all this but evident 
danger ? Now, your husband is very sensible, and 
assures me that he will consider all carefully, in which 
you will help him : and as for me, I will pray, accord- 
ing to your desire, that it may please God to direct 
well that dear child, that she may live and grow old 
in his fear. 

As for taking this young girl to balls often or 
seldom, as she will go with you, it is of little con- 
sequence.* Your prudence must judge of that by 
your own eyes, and according to circumstances ; but 
as you wish to marry her, and she inclines the same 

* It must be noticed here that the Saint is not stating his 
general doctrine about balls, but saying that a certain lady, a most 
intimate friend of S. Chantal, might lawfully take her daughter to 
assemblies of which he knew the exact character. His general 
doctrine is given in the 33rd Chapter of the 3rd Part of the 
Introduction, which, he thus sums up in the Preface to the Amour: 
"In that passage I have declared the extreme peril of dances." 
— (Translator's Note.) 


98 .5V. Francis de Sales. 

way, there is no harm in taking her just as often as 
is enough and not too much. If I mistake not, this 
child is lively, vigorous, and of a nature somewhat 
ardent. Well, now that her mind begins to develop, 
you must put quietly and sweetly into it the begin- 
nings and first seeds of true glory and virtue, not by 
reproving her with bitter words, but by continually 
admonishing her with sensible and kind words on all 
occasions. And these you must get repeated to her by 
forming for her good friendships with well-disposed 
and sensible girls. 

Madame de N. has told me that as regards your 
exterior and the propriety of your house, you get on 
very nicely ; and both she and my brother De Thorens 
have told me something which fills me with joy : 
namely, that your husband gains ever a higher and 
nobler reputation for being a good magistrate ; firm, 
equitable, laborious in the duty of his office, and in all 
things living and behaving as a very good man and 
good Christian. I promise you, my dear child, that I 
felt a thrill of joy at this account, for this is a great 
and splendid blessing. Amongst other things he told 
me that he always begins his day by assisting at Holy 
Mass, and that when opportunity offers he shows 
worthy and becoming zeal for the holy Catholic 
religion. May God be always at his right hand, that 
he may never change but from better to better. You 
are, then, very happy, my dear child, to have both 
temporal and spiritual blessings on your house. 

The journey to Loretto is a great journey for 

Letters to Married Women. 99 

women : I advise you often to make it in spirit, 
joining by intention your prayers to that great mul- 
titude of pious persons who go thither to honour the 
mother of God, as to the place where first the incom- 
parable honour of that maternity came to her. But 
as you have no vow which obliges you to go there in 
body, I do not advise you to undertake it : though 
indeed I advise you to be more and more zealous in 
devotion to this Holy Lady, whose intercession is so 
powerful and so useful to souls, that for my part I 
esteem it the greatest help that we can have for our 
progress in true piety towards God ; and I can say this 
from knowing several remarkable exemplifications of 
it. May the name of this Holy Virgin be for ever 
blessed and praised ! Amen. 

As for your alms, my dear daughter, make them 
always somewhat liberal and in good measure, yet 
with the discretion which formerly I have told you of 
or written about : for if what you put into the bosom 
of the earth is returned to you with usury by its 
fertility, be sure that what you put into the bosom of 
God will be infinitely more fruitful, in one way or 
another ; that is to say, that God will reward you in 
this world either by giving you more wealth, or more 
health, or more contentment. Your, &c. 

H 2 

ioo St. Francis de Sales. 


To a Lady. 

Whose husband had intended tojight a duel. 
My dearest Daughter, — I see by your letter the state 
of soul of your dear husband, from the duel which 
he had resolved upon, though he did not fight it. I 
think there is no excommunication, because it did not 
come to that effect required by the canons. 

But, my dearest child, I confess that I am scan- 
dalized to see good Catholic souls, and souls which 
otherwise have an affection for God, so little careful 
of eternal salvation as to expose themselves to the 
danger of never seeing the face of God, and seeing 
for ever, and feeling, the horrors of hell. Truly, I 
cannot think how any one can have a courage so 
misdirected, and for trifles and nothings. 

The love which I have for my friends, and specially 
your dear husband, makes my hair stand on end when 
1 know they are in such peril ; and what torments me 
most is the very little appearance they show of the 
true sorrow which they ought to have for the offence 
against God, since they take no pains to hinder it in 
future. What would I not do to have such things 
done no more ! 

But I do not say this to disquiet you. We must 
hope that God will amend us, all together, if we beg 
him to do so, as we ought. Get your good husband 
then to confess ; for though I do not think he is under 

Letters to Married Women. 101 

excommunication, yet he is in terrible mortal sin from 
which he must escape at once ; for excommunication 
is only incurred by acts, but sin by will. 

I think I shall soon have the bracelet of the 
presence of God,* whom I beg to bless you with all 
the desirable blessings which you can long for, my 
dearest daughter. Your, &c. 

To a Lady. 

On the folly of persons in the world about duels. 

Annecy, i$th May, 1612. 

My dearest Daughter, — Your last letter has given me a 
thousand consolations, and also to Madame N., to whom 
I have communicated it, having seen nothing in it 
which could not be shown to a lady of that kind, and 
one who cherishes you so holily. But I write to 
you in haste, as I must get ready a despatch for 

My God ! dearest daughter, what shall we say of 
these men who esteem so much the honour of this 
miserable world, and so little the beatitude of the 
other ? I assure you that I have had strange troubles 
of heart, in thinking how near to eternal damnation 
this dear cousin was placed, and that your dear hus- 

* The allusion is, perhaps, to some reminder of the presence of 

102 St. Francis de Sales. 

band would have led him thither. Alas ! what sort 
of friendship — to help to carry one another towards 
hell ! We must pray God to make them see his holy 
light, and to have great compassion on them. 

I see them truly with a heart full of pity, when I 
consider that they know that God merits to be pre- 
ferred ; and yet have not the courage to prefer him, 
when occasion requires, for fear of the words of the 

Still, that your husband may not rot in his sin, 
and in the excommunication, I send him this note for 
confession and absolution. I pray God to send him 
the required contrition. Well, then, rest in peace ; 
throw your heart and your wishes into the arms of 
the heavenly Providence, and may the Divine blessing- 
be always amongst you. Amen. 

To A Lady. 

The Saint consoles her in the illness of her daughter and blames 
the excessive love of mothers for their children. 

Annecy, S. Dominic's Day, 4th August, 1621. 
Madam, — I honour you and your daughter extremeJy, 
and am very pleased to contribute all that I have for 
your mutual content. To her, please God, I will give 
my counsel apart ; but to you I give it now, assuring 
myself that your good nature will take it in good 

Letters to Married Women. 103 

Madam, it is possible for any love, except the love 
of God, to be too strong, and when too strong it is 
dangerous: it excites the passions of the soul, because 
being a passion, and the mistress of the passions, it 
agitates and troubles the spirit. For it is a disturb- 
ing force, and finding order it disorders all the 
economy of our affections. 

Well, must we not think that the love of mothers 
for their children may be the same ? Yea, and the 
more readily because it seems lawful, having the pass- 
port of natural inclination, and the excuse of the 
goodness of the fond heart of mothers. 

We speak of you pretty often, the good Father N. 
and I, and with respect and lovingness: yet, — pardon 
me, please, — but when he tells me excitements and 
anxieties of your heart in regard of the illness of 
Madame de N., I cannot help thinking there is some 
excess. But now, if you find that I speak my mind 
too freely, and that I am wrong, what means of excus- 
ing myself can I find ? At the same time I wish to 
lose nothing of your good will; for I too highly 
esteem it, and prize infinitely the heart from which 
it comes, and the spirit which gives it birth. 

And, in general, I wish to say in a word that you 
have such power to move hearts, mine having felt the 
power of your spirit, and being quite subdued by it, 
that you have no need of help to move that of Madame 
de N. to whatever you please. I am sure that after 
the power of the Spirit of God, to which all must give 
way, yours will be in all cases the greatest. Live to 

104 St. Francis de Sales. 

God, Madam, and to the most Holy Trinity, in whom 
I am ; yours, &c. 

To a Religious of the Visitation. 

Same Subject. 

13th December, 162 1. 
I pity this good lady extremely. Her nature is 
only too good, or rather her natural goodness is not 
sufficiently overcome by the supernatural in her. 
Alas ! these poor earthly mothers do not sufficiently 
regard their children as the work of God, and too 
much as the children of their womb ; they do not 
sufficiently regard them as children of eternal Provi- 
dence, and too much as children of temporal birth, 
and as belonging to the service of the temporal order. 
But if I can, I will write to her now, if I have the 
least leisure 

To a Lady. 

Parents ought to bless God when their children consecrate 
themselves to his service. 

Your letter, which M. Crichant has given me, is a 
great comfort to me, my dearest daughter, making it 

Letters to Married Woi?ien. 105 

easy to see that as I do not forget your heart, so yours 
does not forget mine. 

You have truly cause to bless God for the inspira- 
tion which he gives to your daughter, choosing her 
for the better part in this mortal life. But, my child, 
we must do all things in their time. It is truly not 
I that have fixed the age at which women may become 
religious, but the Holy Council of Trent. 

Believe me, my dearest daughter, if there is nothing 
extraordinarily urgent, keep quietly in obedience to the 
ordinary laws of the Church. Obedience is better than 
sacrifices* It is a sort of obedience very agreeable 
to God to want no dispensation without great need. 
Our Lady asked no leave to bring forth before the 
time, nor to speak with our Lord before the age at 
which children are accustomed to speak. 

Go on quietly, then, and all will turn to blessing, 
even for your own self : after the child God will open 
the door to the mother : and it is not forbidden to 
seethe, in the sacrifice, the mother sheep in the milk 
of her little one. On every occasion I will serve you 
very affectionately. You have no need of my help on 
these occasions, because God has left you the reverend 
Father Suffren and because these Sisters of the 
Visitation are so much obliged to your loving kind- 
ness. And as you have carpeted their oratory on 
the day of their entry into the new house, they should 
do much to carpet their monastery with your good 
affections, and with those of your dear daughter. 

* 1 Kings, xv. 22. 

io6 St. Francis de Sales. 

Recommend me to the mercy of God, and the 
goodness of his mother. Your most humble, &c. 

To a Lady. 

The Saint congratulates her on her daughter's entering the 
I have heard from the mouth of dear M. Crichant 
the history of the entry and reception of your dear 
little daughter into the holy order of Carmelites, and 
how she passed from your maternal bosom, my dearest 
daughter, into that of the good Mother Magdalen of 
S. Joseph. I trust that this action will be blessed by- 
the sweetness of him who loves speed in good designs 
and good executions, and who found fault with the 
prudence of that youth who wanted to go and bury 
his father before coming entirely to follow Jesus. 

There is something a little extraordinary in the 
case of this child, and perhaps also in her reception, 
but it is no wonder that a needle free from grease, 
not distant, not rubbed with oil, not hindered by the 
diamond, should join itself so quickly and powerfully 
to its magnet. So then, blessed be God, my dearest 
daughter, behold your holocaust almost consumed 
before it is properly placed upon the altar. The 
Divine Majesty bless you more and more with his 
holy love, and also the heart of your dear husband, 
who so sweetly conspires with you in aspiring entirely 

Letters to Married Women. 107 

after God, and respiring only in him. I am in- 
variably, your, &c. 

My heart is entirely dedicated to that of Made- 
moiselle de Verton, your dear sister, in which I have 
seen that God reigns: may it please his Divine 
Majesty, to reign there for ever. 

To a Lady. 

Consolations on the illness of her husband. 

i*]th February, 1620. 
With you, my dearest daughter, there is no need of 
ceremony : for God having made my heart so strongly 
locked to yours, there is nothing between us, I think. 
This is to explain why I write to you only these two 
words, keeping my leisure to write to others whom I 
must answer. 

But what are these two words ? Humility and 
Patience. Yes, my very dear child, and ever, indeed, 
dearer child, you are surrounded with crosses so long 
as your dear husband is poorly : now sacred love will 
tell you that, in imitation of the great lover, you must 
be on the cross with humility, as unworthy to suffer 
anything for him who has suffered so much for us, 
and with patience, not wishing to come down from 
the cross till after death, if it so please the Eternal 

108 St. Francis de Sales. 

O, my dearest daughter, commend me to this 
Divine lover, crucified and crucifying, that he may 
crucify my love and all my passions, in order that I 
may no longer love any but him, who for the love 
of our love has willed to be painfully but lovefully 

My brother De Boisy, your host, is going to be 
made bishop, to succeed me, Madame and His Most 
Serene Highness having so wished it, without my either 
directly or indirectly having had anything to do with 
it. This makes me hope for a little repose, to write 
something or other about the Divine Lover, and his 
love, and to prepare myself for eternity. 

My dearest daughter, I am beyond comparison the 
very humble servant of yourself, and of your husband, 
and of M. C, but above all, of your dear soul, which 
may God bless. Amen. 


To a Lady. 

Same subject as the preceding. 

23rd October, 1620. 
Truly, my dearest daughter, I could willingly love 
the maladies of your dear husband, if charity allowed, 
because I think them useful to you for the mortifica- 
tion of your affection and feelings. Well, then, leave 
it to be seen by the heavenly and eternal Providence 
of our Lord, whether they are for the good of your 

Letters to Married Women. 109 

soul or of his, both being exercised as they are by 
means of holy patience. O, my child, how often the 
world calls good what is evil, and still oftener evil what 
is good. However, since that sovereign goodness which 
wills our troubles wills also that we ask of him deliver- 
ance from them, I beg it with all my heart to give 
back good and lasting health (sante) to this dear hus- 
band, and a very excellent and very lasting holiness 
(saintete) to my dearest daughter, that she may walk 
steadily and fervently in the way of true and living 

" lam writing to the Visitation Mother (De Chantal). 
There seems to be illness everywhere, but illness which 
is a great good, as I hope. Let the good pleasure of 
the Divine Majesty ever be our pleasure and comfort 
in the adversities which come upon us. Amen. 

To a Lady. 

Same subject. 
So then, my dearest daughter, you are ever at the 
foot of the cross amidst tribulations, in the sickness 
of your dear husband. O, how precious are these 
pains which seem so hard ! All the palaces of the 
heavenly Jerusalem, so brilliant, so lovely, so delight- 
some, are made of these materials, at least in man's 
quarter ; for in that of the angels the buildings are of 

no St. Francis de Sales. 

another kind. Yet they are not so excellent j and if 
envy could reign in the kingdom of eternal love, the 
angels would envy men two excellencies which consist 
in two sufferings : one is that which our Lord has 
borne on the cross for us, and not for them, at least 
not so entirely, the other is that which men endure 
for our Lord ; — the sufferings of God for man, of man 
for God. 

My dear daughter, if you do not make long prayers 
amidst your infirmities and those of your husband, 
make your sickness itself a prayer, offering it to him 
who has so loved our infirmities that, on the day of 
his nuptials and sacred joy, he crowned himself and 
glorified himself with them. Do thus. 

Do not bind yourself to the same confessor, when 
to gain time it may be required to go to the first 

I am grieved that Madame de N. is so troubled ; but 
as she loves God, all will work together to her unto 
good. We must leave to our sweet Lord the very 
loving disposition by which he often does us more 
good by troubles and afflictions than by happiness and 

My dearest daughter, say not so much harm of 
your heart, for I love it so much that I do not like it 
to be so spoken of; it is not unfaithful, my dearest 
child, but it is a little weak sometimes, and a little 
drowsy. But, for the rest, it wishes to be all to God, 
I know well, and aspires to the perfection of heavenly 
love. God bless it then for ever, this heart of my 

Letters to Married Women. 1 1 1 

dearest daughter, and give it the grace to be more and 
more humble. God be blessed ! 

To a Religious who had been Married. 

The Saint prepares her to accept with submission the death of 
her child. 

We must await, my very dear mother, the result of 
this sickness as quietly as we can, with a perfect reso- 
lution to conform self to the Divine will in this loss, 
if absence for a little time should be called loss, 
which, God helping, will be made up by an eternal 

Ah ! how happy is the heart which loves and cherishes 
the Divine will in all events ! Oh ! if once we have 
our hearts closely united to that holy and happy eter- 
nity ! Go (we shall say to all our friends), go dear 
friends, go into that eternal existence, at the time 
fixed by the king of eternity; we shall go thither after 
you. And as this time is only given us for that 
purpose, and as the world is only peopled to people 
heaven, when we go there we do all that we have 
to do. 

This is why, my mother, our old Fathers have so 
much admired the sacrifice of Abraham. What a 
father's heart ! And your holy countrywoman, the 
mother of St. Symphorian, with whose holy act I 

1 1 2 St. Francis de Sales. 

finish my book ! # O God, my mother, let us leave 
our children to the mercy of God,, who has left his 
Son to our mercy. Let us offer to him the life of 
ours, as he has given for us the life of his. In general, 
we should keep our eyes fixed on the heavenly Provi- 
dence, in whose dispensations we ought to acquiesce 
with all the humility of our heart. 

We must be strong and constant near the cross and. 
on the cross itself, if it please God to put us there. 
Blessed are the crucified, for they shall be glorified. 
Yes, my dearest mother, our heritage in this life is in 
the cross, and in the next it will be in glory. 

My God ! dearest mother, how I wish you perfec- 
tion ! And what courage have I, and what hope in 
that sovereign goodness, and in his Holy Mother, that 
your life will be all hidden with Christ in Godf — to 
speak with our Lord. God bless you, and mark your 
heart with the eternal sign of his pure love ! We 
must become, very humbly, saints, and spread every- 
where the good and sweet odour of our charity. May 
God make us burn with his holy love, and despise all 
for that ! May our Lord be the repose of our heart, 
and of our body ! Every day I learn not to do my 
own will, and to do what I do not want. Rest in 
peace in the two arms of Divine Providence, and in 
the bosom of the protection of our Lady. 

* The Introduction. "j" Col. i 3. 

Letters to Married Women. 1 1 3 

To a Lady. 

Consolation to a mother on the death of her son in childhood. 

3rd January, 1613. 

I assure you, dearest daughter, that your affliction 
has touched me deeply, being assured that it has 
been very severe ; insomuch as your spirit, like that of 
the rest of men, not seeing the end and intention for 
which things happen, receives them not in the way 
they are, but in the way they are felt. 

Behold, my dear child, your son is in safety, he 
possesses eternal happiness ! there he is, saved and 
secured from the risk in which we see so many, of 
losing his soul. Tell me, I ask, might he not with 
age have become very wicked, might you not have 
suffered much pain from him as so many mothers 
suffer from theirs? For, my dear child, we often 
suffer pain from those from whom we least expect it ; 
and see how God has withdrawn him from all these 
perils, and made him enjoy the triumph without the 
battle, and reap the fruits of glory without labour. 

Do you not think, my dear daughter, that your 
vows and devotions are well fulfilled ? You made them 
for him, but in order that he might stay with you 
in this vale of tears. Our Lord, who understands 
better what is good for us than we do, has heard your 
prayers in favour of the child for whom you made 


ii4 $*' Francis de Sales. 

them, but at the sacrifice of the temporal satisfactions 
which you sought. 

Truly I quite approve the confession you make, 
that it is for your sins that this child has departed, 
because it comes from humility : but all the same I 
do not consider that it is founded in truth. No, my 
dear child, it is not to punish you, but to favour this 
child, that God has saved him early. You have pain 
from this death, but the child has great gain from it, 
you have received temporal pain and the child eternal 
joy. At the end of our days, when our eyes are 
cleared, we shall see that this life is so trifling that 
we ought not to have pitied those who lost it soon : 
the shortest is the best, if it leads us to the eternal. 

So then, behold your little child in heaven with the 
Angels and the Holy Innocents. He is grateful to 
you for the care you had of him during the little time 
he was in your charge, and specially for the devotions 
made for him : in exchange he prays God for you and 
pours forth a thousand desires over your life, that it 
may be more and more according to the will of God, 
and that so you may be able to gain the life which he 
enjoys. Remain then in peace, my dearest daughter, 
and keep your heart ever in heaven, where you have this 
fine [brave) little saint. Persevere in always wishing 
to love more faithfully the sovereign goodness of our 
Saviour ; and I pray that he may be your consolation 
for ever. I am, without end, your must humble, very 
affectionate and faithful godfather and servant. 

Letters to Married Women. 1 1 5 

To a Lady. 

On the death of her son. 

Annecy, 2nd December, 16 19. 
The father confessor of Sainte-Claire de Grenoble has 
just told me that you have been extremely ill, my 
dear daughter, after having seen the dear N. pass away, 
and that you have been healed of a great infirmity. 
I see amidst all this your well-beloved heart, which, 
with a great submission to the Divine Providence, 
says that all is good, since the fatherly hand of this 
supreme goodness has given all these blows. 

O how happy is this child, to have flown to heaven 
like a little angel, after having but just touched the 
earth ! What a pledge have you there above, my 
dearest daughter ! But, I am sure, you will have 
treated heart to heart with our Saviour about this 
affair; and he will already have holily soothed the 
natural tenderness of your maternity, and you will 
already often have said with all your heart the filial 
words taught us by our Lord : Yes, eternal Father, for 
thus it has pleased thee to do, and it is good to 
he so* 

O my daughter, if you have done like this, you are 

happily dead in this Divine Saviour with this child, 

and your life is hidden with Christ in God ; and when 

the Saviour shall appear who is your life, then shall 

* Matt. xi. 26. 

I 2 

1 1 6 £V. Francis de Sales. 

you also appear with him in glory* This is the T\ay 
the Holy Spirit speaks in the Scriptures. 

We share in the sufferings and death of those we 
love by this affection which holds us to them, and 
when they suffer and die in our Lord, and we ac- 
quiesce with patience in their sufferings for the sake of 
him who has willed to suffer and die for love of us, we 
suffer and die with them ; all this well heaped up, my 
dearest child, is spiritual riches incomparable ; and 
we shall know it one day, when, for these light 
labours, we shall see eternal rewards. 

Yet, my dearest daughter, as you have willingly 
been ill, so long as God has wished it, be cured now 
in good earnest, as he wishes you to be. And I beg 
him ever, my dearest daughter, that we may be his^ 
without reserve or exception, in health and in sickness, 
tribulation and prosperity, life and death, time and 
eternity. I salute your filial heart, and am your, &c. 


To a Lady. 

Consolation on the death of her son. Example of our Lady 
at the foot of the Cross. 

23rd August j 16 1 9. 

Having known your affliction, my dearest daughter, my 

soul has been touched by it according to the measure 

of the cordial love which God has given me for you ; 

* Col. iii. 3, 4. 

Letters to Married Women. 1 1 7 

for I see you, it seems to me, greatly attacked by 
sorrow, as a mother separated from her only, and 
truly amiable son. 

But I am sure you reflect well, and are quite 
convinced, that this separation is not of long duration, 
since we all are going, with great steps, thither, where 
this son finds himself in the arms, as we may hope, 
of the mercy of God. On this account you should 
assuage and soften, as far as is possible by reason, the 
sorrow which nature causes you. 

But I speak to you with too much reserve, my 
dearest daughter. You have so long desired to serve 
God, and have so long been taught at the foot of the 
cross, that not only do you accept this cross patiently, 
but, I am sure, sweetly and amorously, for the sake 
of him who bore his unto death, and of her who 
having but an only Son, son of incomparable love, 
saw him with her eyes full of tears, and her heart full 
of grief (but grief sweet and gentle), for the salvation 
of you and of all, die upon the cross. 

Finally, my dearest child, you are deprived and 
despoiled of the most precious garment you had. 
Bless the name of God who had given it you, and 
has taken it back, and his Divine Majesty will take 
the place of your child. As for me, I have already 
prayed to God for the departed, and will continue, 
according to the great desires I have for your soul, 
which I pray the eternal goodness of our Lord to make 
abound with blessings, and I am without reserve all 
yours, my dearest daughter, and your, &c. 

1 1 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

To Madam, wife of President Brulart. 

Consolation on the death of a son who died in the Indies, in the 

King's service. 

21st May, 1615. 

O how my soul suffers with your heart, my dearest 

mother ! for I seem to see it, this poor mother's heart, 

all clouded with an excessive trouble ; and at the same 

time a trouble which we can neither blame nor think 

strange, when we consider how amiable was this son, 

whose second separation from us is the subject of our 


My dearest mother, it is true that this son was one 
of the most desirable that ever was : all those who 
knew him recognized it, and knew that it was so. 
But is not this a great part of the consolation which 
we should take now, my dearest mother ? For, truly, 
it seems that those whose life is so worthy of memory 
and esteem still live after death, since one has such 
pleasure in recalling them, and in representing them 
to the minds of those who are living. 

This son, my dearest mother, had already made a 
great separation from us, having voluntarily deprived 
himself of his native clime, to go to serve his God and 
bis King in another and new world. His generosity 
had animated him to this ; and yours had made you 
agree to so honourable a resolution, for which you 
had renounced the delight of ever seeing him again in 

Letters to Married Women. 1 1 9 

this life, and there remained to you only the hope 
of letters from time to time. See then, my dearest 
mother, how he has, under the good pleasure of 
Divine Providence, departed from this other world to 
that which is the oldest and most desirable of all, and 
to which we must all go in our time, and where you 
will see him sooner than you would have done had he 
stayed in this new world amid the labours of the con- 
quests which he was intending to make for his King 
and the Church. 

In a word, he has ended his days in his duty and 
in the fulfilment of his oath. This sort of death is 
excellent, and you must not doubt that the great God 
has made it happy for him, as, from his cradle, he had 
continually favoured him with his grace to make him 
live in a most Christian manner. Console yourself 
then, my dearest mother, and comfort your mind, 
adoring the Divine Providence which does all very 
sweetly : and though the motives of his decrees are 
hidden from us, still the truth of his sweet goodness 
(debonnairete) is certain to us, and obliges us to believe 
that he does all things in perfect kindness. 

You are, as it were, on the eve of taking sail to go 
to where this dear child is. When you are there you 
would not wish him to be in the Indies ; for you will 
see that he will be much better off with angels and 
saints than with tigers and barbarians. But while 
waiting the hour to sail, feed your maternal heart by 
the consideration of the most holy eternity in which 
he is, and which you are quite near. And instead of 

1 20 St. Francis de Sales. 

writing: to him, sometimes speak to God for him, and 
he will quickly know all you want him to know, and 
will receive all the assistance that you will give him 
by your desires and prayers, as soon as you have made 
them and lodged them in the hands of his Divine 

Christians are very wrong to be so little Christian 
as they are, and to break so cruelly the laws of charity 
to obey those of fear : but, my dearest mother, you 
must pray to God for those who do this great evil, 
and apply that prayer to the soul of your departed. 
It is the most agreeable prayer we can make to him 
who made a like prayer on the cross, to which his 
most Holy Mother answered with all her heart, loving 
him with a very ardent charity. 

You cannot think how this blow has struck my 
heart, for, in fine, he was my dear brother, and had 
loved me extremely. I have prayed for him, and will 
do so always, and for you, my dearest mother, to whom 
I wish to render all my life, in a special manner, 
honour and love on behalf also of this deceased brother, 
whose immortal friendship comes to beg me to be more 
and more your, &c. 

Letters to Married Women. 1 2 1 

To a Lady. 

We must not stretch our curiosity so far as to wish to know what 
is, after death, the fate of a person we have much loved. 

My dearest Mother, — Having received your letter 
and message, I will tell you that I know distinctly the 
qualities of your heart, and above all its ardour and 
strength in loving and cherishing what it loves ; it is 
this which makes you speak so much to our Lord of 
this dear departed, and which impels you to these 
desires of knowing where he is. 

But, my dear mother, we must repress these longings 
which proceed from the excess of this amorous passion : 
and when you surprise your mind in this occupation, 
you must immediately, and even with vocal prayers, 
return to our Lord, and say to him this or the like : 
O Lord, how sweet is your providence ! how good is 
your mercy ! Ah ! how happy is this child to have 
fallen into your fatherly arms, where he cannot but 
have good, wherever he is ! 

Yes, my dear mother : for you must take great care 
to think of no other place than Paradise or Purgatory; 
thank God, there is no cause to think otherwise. Draw 
back, then, thus your mind, and afterwards turn it to 
actions of love towards our Lord crucified. 

When you recommend this child to the Divine 
Majesty, say to him simply : Lord, I recommend to 
you the child of my womb : but much more the child 

122 St. Francis de Sales. 

of your mercy, born of my blood, but born again of 
yours. And then pass on; for if you permit your 
soul to amuse itself with this object, adapted and 
agreeable to its senses and to its inferior and natural 
powers, it will never be willing to tear itself away ; 
and under pretence of prayers of piety, it will give 
itself up to certain natural complacencies and satis- 
factions, which will deprive you of the time for 
employing yourself with the supernatural and sovereign 
object of your love. You must certainly moderate 
these ardours of natural affection, which only serve to 
trouble our mind and distract our heart. 

So, then, now, my dearest mother, let us withdraw 
our mind into our heart, and bring it to its duty of 
loving God most solely : and let us allow it no frivolous 
self-busy iog, either about what passes in this world or' 
what passes in the other; but having served out to 
creatures what we owe them of love and charity let us 
refer all to that primary, mastering love which we owe 
to our Creator, and let us conform ourselves to his 
Divine will. I am, very affectionately, my dear mother, 
your most faithful and affectionate child, &c. 

To a Lady. 

On the too great fear of death. 

jth April , 1617. 
Madam, — On this first opportunity which I have of 
writing to you, I keep my promise, and present you 

Letters to Married Women. 123 

some means for softening the fear of death which gives 
you such great terrors in your sicknesses and child- 
bearings : in this there is no sin, but still there is 
damage to your heart, which cannot, troubled by 
this passion, join itself so well by love with its God, as 
it would do if not so much tormented. 

1 °. Then, I assure you, that if you persevere in the 
exercise of devotion, as I see you do, you will find 
yourself, by little and little, much relieved of this 
torment ; so that your soul, thus exempt from evil 
affections, and uniting itself more and more with God, 
will find itself less attached to this mortal life, and to 
the empty satisfactions which it gives. 

Continue, then, the devout life, as you have begun, 
and go always from well to better in the road in which 
you are ; and you will see that after some time these 
errors will grow weak, and will not trouble you so 

2°. Exercise yourself often in the thoughts of the 
great sweetness and mercy with which God our Saviour 
receives souls in their death, when they have trusted 
themselves to him in their life, and have tried to serve 
and love him, each one in his vocation. How good 
art thou, Lord, to them that are of a right heart. 

3°. Often lift up your heart by a holy confidence, 
mingled with a profound humility to ward sour Redeemer; 
saying : / am miserable, Lord, and you will receive my 
misery into the bosom of your mercy, and you will draw 
me, with your paternal hand, to the enjoyment of your 
inheritance. I am frail, and vile, and abject : but you 

124 Si. Francis de Sales. 

will love me in that day, because I have hoped in you, 
and have desired to he yours. 

4°. Excite in yourself as much as possible the love 
of Paradise and of the celestial life, and make some 
considerations on this subject, which you will find 
sufficiently marked in the Introduction to the Devout 
Life, in the meditations on the glory of heaven and 
the choice of Paradise : for in proportion as you 
esteem eternal happiness, will you have less fear for 
leaving this mortal and perishable life. 

5°. Read no books or parts of books in which death, 
and judgment, and hell, are spoken of : for, thanks to 
God, you have quite resolved to live in a Christian 
manner, and have no need to be pushed to it by 
motives of terror and fear. 

6°. Often make acts of love towards our Lady, the 
Saints, and the Angels : make yourself familiar with 
them, often addressing them words of praise and 
love ; for having much intercourse with the citizens 
of the divine, heavenly Jerusalem, it will trouble you 
less to quit those of the earthly or lower city of the 

7°. Often adore, praise and bless the most holy 
death of our Lord crucified, and place all your trust 
in his merit, by which your death will be made happy, 
and often say : divine death of my sweet Jesus, thou 
shalt bless mine and it shall be blessed; I bless thee 
and thou shalt bless me. death more dear than life! 
Thus St. Charles, in his last illness had placed in his 
sight the picture of Christ's Tomb, and of his prayer 

Letters to Married Women. 125 

in the garden, to console himself in this article of 
death by the death and passion of his Redeemer. 

8°. Reflect sometimes, how that you are daughter 
of the Church, and rejoice in this ; for the children 
of this mother who are willing to live according to 
her laws always die happily; and as says the blessed 
Mother (St.) Teresa, it is a great consolation at death 
to have been a child of Holy Church. 

9 . Finish all your prayers in hope, saying : Lord, 
thou art my hope, my soul trusteth in thee* My God, 
who hath hoped in thee and hath been confounded ?f 
In thee, Lord, have I hoped, let me never be con- 
found.% In your ejaculatory prayer during the day, 
and in receiving the Blessed Sacrament, use always 
words of love and hope towards our Lord, such as : 
You are my Father, Lord! God! you are the 
Spouse of my soul, the King of my love and the well 
beloved of my soul. good Jesus ! you are my dear 
master, my help, my refuge. 

io°. Consider often that the persons whom you 
love most, and to be separated from whom would 
trouble you, are the persons with whom you will be 
eternally in heaven : for instance, your husband, your 
little John, your father : Oh ! this little boy, who will 
be, God helping, one day happy in that eternal life, 
in which he will enjoy my happiness, and rejoice over it; 
and I shall enjoy his, and rejoice over it, and we shall 
never more be separated ! So of your husband, your 

* Pf. lvi. 2. f Ecclus ii. n. 

% Ps. xxx. 1 . 

126 St. Francis de Sales. 

father, and others. You will find it all the more easy 
because all your dearest serve God and fear him. 
And because you are a little melancholy, see in the 
Introduction what I say of sadness and the remedies 
against it. 

Here, my dear lady, you have what I can say on 
this subject for the present. I say it to you with a 
heart very affectionate towards yours, which I beg to 
love me and to recommend me often to the Divine 
mercy, as in return I will not cease to pray it to bless 
you. Live happy and joyous in heavenly love, and 
I am your, &c. 


To a Cousin. 

He tells her of her husband's death, and gives her spiritual 

28th September, 16 13. 
My God ! how deceitful is this life, Madam, my dearest 
cousin ! and how short its consolations ! They appear 
in a moment, and another moment carries them off: 
and but for the holy eternity in which all our days 
end, we should have cause to blame our human con- 

My dearest cousin, know that I write with a heart 
full of pain, on account of the loss which I have had, 
but still more on account of the lively sense which I 
have of the blow which this will be to your heart, 
when it hears the sad news of your widowhood so early, 
so unexpected, so lamentable. 

If the multitude of those who will share your sorrow 
could lessen the bitterness of it, you would soon have 

128 St. Francis de Sales. 

little left : for no one has known this excellent gen- 
tleman but contributes a special sorrow towards the 
ackowledgment of his merits. 

But, my dearest cousin, all this cannot console you 
till after the strongest feeling has passed away. While 
this lasts God must sustain your soul and form its 
refuge and support. Well, this sovereign goodness, 
without doubt, my dearest cousin, will bow down to 
you, and will come into your heart, to aid and succour 
it in this tribulation, if you throw yourself into his 
arms and resign yourself into his fatherly hands. 

It was God, my dearest cousin, who gave you this 
husband : it is God who has taken him back. He is 
bound to be pitiful towards you in the griefs which 
the just affections, given you for your marriage, will 
henceforth cause you in this privation. 

This is, in a word, all that I can say to you. Our 
nature is so made that we die at an unforeseen moment, 
and cannot escape this condition : wherefore we must 
take patience, and use our reason to soften the evil 
which we cannot avoid ; then look at God and his 
eternity, in which all our losses will be made up, and 
our union, interrupted by death, will be restored. 

May God and your good angel inspire you with 
every holy consolation, my dearest cousin. I will beg 
it of his Divine Majesty, and will contribute to the 
repose of the soul of the dear departed many holy 
sacrifices : and to your service, my dearest cousin, I 
sincerely offer you all that is in my power, without 
reserve. For I am, and wish even more strongly than 

Letters to Widows. 129 

ever to profess to be, Madam my dearest cousin, your, 


To an Aunt. 

Consolations on the death of her husband. The perfection of 
true friendship is only found in Paradise. 

Madam my Aunt, — Did I not know that your virtue 
can give you the consolations and resolutions necessary 
to support with Christian courage the loss which you 
have had, I should try to give you some reasons for it 
in this letter : if it were required I would bear them 
to you myself. But I consider that you have so much 
charity and fear of God that, seeing his good pleasure 
and holy will, you will conform yourself to it, and will 
soften your sorrow by the consideration of the evil 
of this world, which is so miserable that but for our 
frailty we should rather praise God when he takes 
from it our friends than trouble ourselves about it. 
It is necessary that all, one after another, should quit 
it in the order which is appointed ; and the first are 
the best off, when they have lived with care of their 
salvation and soul, like my uncle and elder, whose 
actions have been so agreeable and profitable to all his 
friends, that we, who have been the most familiar and 
intimate, cannot refrain from much regretting the 
separation. Such sorrow is not forbidden us provided 
that we moderate it by the hope which we have of not 


1 30 St. Francis de Sales. 

remaining separated, but in a little time of following 
him to heaven, the place of our repose, God giving us 
this grace. There shall we form and enjoy without 
end good and Christian friendships, which in this world 
we have only begun. This is the chief thought our 
friends departed require from us, in which thought I 
beg you to keep yourself, leaving inordinate sorrow for 
souls which have not such hopes. Meanwhile, Madam 
my aunt, I have such love for the memory of the 
departed, and for your service, that you will greatly 
increase the obligation I am under if you do me the 
honour to command me in all liberty, and to employ 
me in all assurance. Do this, I beseech vou with all 
my heart, and I beg our Lord to increase in you his 
holy consolations, and to fill you with the graces which 
are wished you by your, &c. 

To Madame Rivolat, Widow. 

The Saint consoles her in the death of her husband. 

Learning that you are widowed, my dear daughter, 
I suffer with the pain you have suffered; but still I 
exhort you not to let yourself be carried away with 
sorrow, for the grace which God has given you to 
wish to serve him obliges you to console yourself in 
him ; and the children of the love of God have so 
much trust in his goodness that they never become 
desolate, having a refuge in which they find all con- 

Letters to Widows. 1 3 1 

tent. He who has learnt how to draw from that 
fountain cannot long remain thirsty from the passions 
of this miserable life. I know that you are ill, but, 
my dear child, as your pains increase you must in- 
crease your courage, thinking that he who, to show his 
love for you, has chosen the death of the cross, will 
draw you more and more to his love and his glory by 
the cross of tribulation which he sends you. Mean- 
while I pray our Lord for you and your departed, 
and beg you to recommend me to his Divine mercy. 
I am in him your humble, affectionate, &c. 


To a Lady. 

Consolation on the death of her husband. He speaks of her 

Madam, — You cannot think how sensibly I feel your 
affliction. I honoured with a very particular affection 
this dear departed gentleman, for many reasons, but 
chiefly for his virtue and piety. How grievous that, 
at a time when there is so great a dearth of such souls 
among men of his rank, we should see and suffer these 
losses, so injurious to the commonwealth. 

Still, my dear lady, considering all things, we must 
accommodate our hearts to the condition of life in 
which we are : it is a perishing and mortal life, and 
death which rules over this life keeps no regular 
course — it seizes sometimes here, sometimes there, 

k % 

132 6*/. Francis de Sales. 

without choice or any method, the good among the 
bad, and the young among the old. 

O, how happy are they who, being always on their 
guard against death, find themselves always ready to 
die, so that they may live again eternally in the life 
where there is no more death ! Our beloved dead 
was of this number, I well know. That alone, Madam, 
is enough to console us; for at last, after a few days, 
soon or late, in a few years, we shall follow him in 
this passage, and the friendships and fellowships begun 
in this world will be taken up again never to be broken 
off. Meanwhile, let us have patience and wait with 
courage till the hour of our departure strikes to go 
where these friends already are; and as we have loved 
them cordially let us continue to love them, doing for 
their love what they used to wish us to do, and what 
they now wish for on our behalf. 

Doubtless, my dear lady, the greatest desire your 
deceased had at his departure was, that you should 
not long remain in the grief which his absence would 
cause you, but try to moderate, for love of him, the 
passion which love of him excited in you. And now, 
in the happiness which he enjoys, or certainly expects, 
he wishes you a holy consolation, and wishes you to 
save your eyes for a better purpose than tears, and 
your mind for a more desirable occupation than 

He has left you precious pledges of your marriage ; 
keep your eyes to look after their bringing up, keep 
your mind to raise up theirs. Do this, Madam, for 

Letters to Widows. 133 

the love of this dear husband, and imagine that he 
asked you for this at his departure, and still requires 
this service from you ; for truly he would have done 
it if he could, and he now desires it. The rest of 
your griefs may be according to your heart which is 
in this world, but not according to his, which is in the 

And since true friendship delights to satisfy the just 
desires of the friend, so now in order to please your 
husband be consoled ; calm your mind, and raise your 
heart. And if this counsel which I give you with 
entire sincerity is agreeable to you, put it in practice. 
Prostrate yourself before your Saviour, acquiesce in his 
ordinance; consider the soul of this dear departed, 
which wishes from yours a true and Christian reso- 
lution, and abandon yourself altogether to the heavenly 
providence of the Saviour of your soul, your protector, 
who will help and succour you, and will, in the end, 
unite you with your dead, not as wife with husband, 
but as heiress of heaven with co-heir, and as faithful 
lover with her beloved. 

I write this, Madam, without leisure, and almost 
without breath, offering you that very loving service 
of mine which has long been yours, and also that 
which the merits and the goodness of your husband 
towards me require from my soul. 

God be in the midst of your heart. Amen. 

134 St* Francis de Sales. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

Duties of widows relatively to their salvation; means of gaining 
that end. 
Annecy, Feast of the Holy Cross, 3rd May, 1604. 
Madame, — I write to assure you more aud more that I 
will carefully keep the promise which I made you to 
write as often as possible. The more I am separated 
from you exteriorly the more I feel myself united with 
you interiorly, and I will never cease to pray our good 
God to please to perfect you in his holy work, that is, 
the good desire and design of reachiog the perfection 
of Christian life. This desire you must cherish and 
tenderly nourish in your heart, as a blessing of the 
Holy Spirit and a spark of his Divine fire. I have seen 
a tree which was planted by the blessed St. Dominic at 
Rome : every one goes to see it, and is fond of it for 
the sake of the planter. In the same way having seen 
in you the tree of the desire of sanctity, which our 
Lord has planted in your soul, I cherish it tenderly, 
and take more pleasure in regarding it now than when 
present ; and I exhort you to do the same and to say 
with me : may God give you increase, O lovely tree ! 
Divine heavenly seed, may God grant you to produce 
your fruit unto maturity : and when you shall have 
produced it, may God guard you from the wind which 
makes the fruits fall to earth for vile beasts to eat. 
Madame ; this desire should be in you like the orange 

Letters to Widows. 


trees of the coast of Genoa, which almost all the year 
are covered with fruit and flowers and leaves together, 
for your desire should always fructify by the occasions 
which offer of fulfilling it every day, and yet your 
desire for objects and means to advance further should 
never cease. These wishes are flowers of the tree of 
your design; the leaves are the frequent acknow- 
ledgments of your weakness, which preserve both the 
good works and the good desire. This desire is one of 
the pillars of your tabernacle; the other is love of 
your widowhood, a holy love, desirable for as many 
reasons as there are stars in heaven, and without which 
widowhood is contemptible and false. St. Paul com- 
mands us to honour the widows who are widows indeed;* 
but those who love not their widowhood are not widows, 
save in appearance, their heart is married. These are 
not they of whom it is said : Blessing , will I bless the 
widow ;f and elsewhere : God is the judge, protector 
and defender of widows. % Blessed be God who has 
given you this dear holy love. Increase it every day 
more and more, and the consolation of it will increase 
for you at the same time, since all the building of your 
happiness is supported on these two pillars. Look, at 
least once a month, to see whether one or the other 
be not weakened ; use for this some meditation or 
consideration similar to that of which I send you a 
copy, and which I have communicated with some fruit 
to other souls which I have in charge. Do not, how- 

* 1 Tim. v. 3. t Ps. cxxxi. 15. 

% Ps. lxvii. 6. 

136 St Francis de Sales. 

ever, tie yourself to this same meditation ; for I do not 
send it you for that purpose, but only to show you the 
direction of this monthly examen and trial of yourself, 
so that you may learn more easily to get advantage 
from it. If you like better to repeat this same medi- 
tation it will not be useless to you ; but I say, " if 
you like better/' for in all and everywhere I wish you 
to have a holy liberty of spirit about the means of 
perfection. If the two columns are preserved and 
strengthened, it matters not much how this is done. 
Keep yourself from scruples, and rest entirely on what 
I have said to you by word of mouth ; for I have said 
it in our Lord. Keep yourself constantly in the 
presence of God by the means which you have. Keep 
yourself from eager solicitudes and disquietudes, for 
there is nothing which more hinders us from journey- 
ing to perfection. Throw your heart gently into the 
wounds of our Lord, and not violently. Have an 
extreme confidence in his mercy and goodness, and 
assurance that he will not abandon you ; and for this 
cease not to keep yourself to his holy cross. After 
the love of our Lord I recommend to you that of his 
spouse, the Church, this dear and sweet dove, which 
can alone produce and bring forth little doves for the 
Spouse. Praise God a hundred times a day for being 
a daughter of the Church, like Mother (St.) Teresa, 
who often repeated this sentiment at the hour of her 
death with extreme consolation. Cast your eyes on 
the bridegroom and the bride, and say to the beloved : 
O, to how lovely a bride art thou espoused ! And to 

Letters to Widows. 137 

the Spouse : O, to how divine a lover art thou wedded ! 
Have great feeling for all the pastors and preachers of 
the Church, and behold them spread over all the face 
of the earth j for there is no province in the world 
without them. Pray God for them, that while saving 
themselves they may procure the salvation of many 
souls; and here I beg you never to forget me, since 
God has given me such strong will never to forget you. 
I send you a little manuscript on the perfection of a 
Christian life. I have made it, not directly for you, 
but for several others ; still you will see in what you 
can make it useful for yourself. Write to me, I pray 
you, as often as ever you can, and with all the con- 
fidence possible : for the extreme desire which I have 
of your good and advancement, make me pleased to 
learn often what you are doing. Recommend me to 
our Lord, for I have more need of it than any one in 
the world. I beseech him to give abundantly of his 
holy love to you and to all belonging to you. I am 
for ever, and beseech you to consider me, your very 
assured and devoted servant in Jesus Christ. 

To the Same. 

He sends a picture representing the little Jesus with our Lady 
and St. Anne. 

29th May, 1605. 

Behold, my child, this little picture which I send 
you : it represents your holy abbess while still in the 

1 3 8 .5V. Francis de Sales. 

monastery of married persons, and her good mother 
who is come from the convent of widows to visit her. 
Look at the daughter how she keeps her eyes cast 
down : it is because she cannot see those of the child ; 
the mother on the contrary lifts them up, because they 
rest on those of the little darling. Virgins only lift 
their eyes, to see those of the spouse, and widows lower 
them when they cannot have this honour. Your 
abbess is gloriously adorned with a crown on her head, 
but looks down on some little flowers scattered on the 
step of her seat. 

The good grandmother has near her on the earth 
a basket filled with fruits. I think that they are the 
actions of holiness, the little and humble virtues 
which she wishes to give to her pet as soon as she 
has him in her arms. Meanwhile, you see that the 
little Jesus bends and inclines himself towards his 
aged grandmother, widow as she is, and with poor 
head-dress and simply clad. He holds a world, which 
he turns gently away with one hand, because he knows 
well that it is not suitable for widows ; but with the 
other he gives her his holy benediction. 

Keep yourself near this widow, and like her have 
your little basket. Keep your arms and your eyes 
towards the child ; his mother your abbess will give 
him to you in your turn : He will very willingly in- 
cline himself towards you, and will bless you muni- 
ficently. Ah ! how I desire him, my daughter ! This 
wish is spread abroad in my soul, where it will remain 
eternally. Live joyfully in God, and salute very 

Letters to Widows. 139 

humbly in my name, Madame your abbess, and dear 
mistress. May sweet Jesus be enthroned in your 
heart and on mine together ! May he reign and live 
there for ever ! Amen. 


To the Same. 

Humility is the virtue proper for widows ; in what it consists. 
The great utility of meditating on the life and death of our 
Lord. Remedies for temptations against faith. Advice 
on the exercise of virtues. 

1 st November, 1605. 

My God ! what heartiness and passion I have in the 
service of your soul ! You could not sufficiently be- 
lieve it, my dear sister. I have so much that this 
alone suffices to convince me that it is from our Lord, 
for it is not possible, I think, that all the world to- 
gether could give me so much ; at least, I have never 
seen so much in the world. 

To-day is the Feast of All Saints, and at our solemn 
matins, seeing our Lord begin the beatitudes with 
poverty of spirit, which St. Augustine interprets of 
the holy and most desirable virtue cf humility, I re- 
member that you had asked me to send you something 
about humility. I think I said nothing in my last 
letter, though it was very ample and perhaps too 
long. Now, God has given me so many things to 

140 St. Francis de Sales. 

write to you, that if I had time I think I should say 

In the first place, my dear sister, it comes to my 
mind that doctors give widows, as their proper virtue, 
holy humility. Virgins have theirs, so have martyrs, 
doctors, pastors — each his or her own, like the order 
of their knighthood : and all must have had humility, 
for they would not have been exalted had they not 
been humbled. But to widows belongs, before all, 
humility ; for what can puff up the widow with pride ? 
She has no longer her virginity. (This can, however, 
be amply supplied for by a great widowly humility. 
It is much better to be a widow with plenty of oil 
in our lamp, by desiring nothing but humility and 
charity, than a virgin without oil, or with little oil.) 
She has no longer that which gives the highest value 
to your sex in the estimation of the world ; she has 
no longer her husband, who was her honour, and 
whose name she has taken. What more remains to 
glorify herself in, except God ! O happy glory ! O 
precious crown ! In the garden of the church widows 
are compared to violets, little and low flowers, of no 
striking colour, nor of very intense perfume, but mar- 
vellously sweet. O how lovely a flower is the Chris- 
tian widow, little and low by humility ! She is not 
brilliant in the eyes of the world ; for she avoids them, 
and no longer adorns herself to draw them on her ; 
and why should she desire the eyes when she no 
longer desires the hearts. 

The Apostle orders his dear disciple to honour the 

Letters to Widows. 141 

widows who are widows indeed* And who are widows 
indeed save those who are snch in heart and mind — 
that is, who have their heart married to no creature ? 
Our Lord says not to-day : Blessed are the clean of 
body, but of heart ; and praises not the poor ; but the 
poor in spirit. Widows are to be honoured when they 
are such in heart and mind ; what does widow mean 
except deserted and forlorn — that is, miserable, poor 
and little ? Those, then, who are poor, miserable and 
little in mind and heart, are to be praised. All this 
means those who are humble, of whom our Lord is 
the protector. 

But what is humility ? Is it the knowledge of this 
misery and poverty ? Yes, says our St. Bernard ; but 
this is moral and human humility. What then is 
Christian humility. It is the love of this poverty 
and abjection, contemplating these in our Lord. You 
know that you are a very wretched (pauvrette) and 
weak widow? Love this miserable state; make it 
your glory to be nothing; be glad of it, since your 
misery becomes an object for the goodness of God to 
show his mercy in. 

Amongst beggars those who are the most miserable 
and whose sores are the largest and most loathsome^ 
think themselves the best beggars, and the most likely 
to draw alms. We are but beggars; the most miserable 
are the best off; the mercy of God willingly looks on 

Let us humble ourselves, I beseech you, and plead 
* 1 Tim. v. 3. 

142 St. Francis de Sales. 

only our sores and miseries at the gate of the Divine 
mercy ; but remember to plead them with joy, com- 
forting yourself in being quite empty, and quite a 
widow, that our Lord may fill you with his kingdom. 
Be mild and affable with every one, except with those 
who would take away your glory, which is your 
wretcheduess and your perfect widowhood. / glory 
in my infirmities* says the Apostle ; and it is better 
for me to die than lose my glory. Do you see, he 
would rather die than lose his infirmities, which are 
his glory. 

You must carefully guard your misery and your 
littleness ; for God regards it, as he did that of the 
Blessed Virgin. Man seeth those things that appear, 
but the Lord beholdeth the hearty If he sees our. 
littleness in our hearts, he will give us great graces. 
This humility preserves chastity, whence, in the 
Canticles, that lovely soul is called the lily of the 
valleys. Be then joyously humble before God, but 
be joyously humble also before the world. Be very 
glad that the world makes no account of you; if it 
esteems you, mock at it gaily, and laugh at its judg- 
ment, and at your misery which is judged ; if it esteems 
you not, console yourself joyously, because in this, at 
least, the world follows truth. 

As for the exterior, do not affect visible humility, 

but also do not run away from it : embrace it, and 

ever joyously. I approve the lowering of ourselves 

sometimes to mean offices, even towards inferiors and 

* 2 Cor. xii. 9. f 1 Kings, xvi. 7. 

Letters to Widows. 143 

proud persons, towards the sick and poor, towards our 
own people at home and abroad ; but it must ever be 
ingenuously and joyously. I repeat it often, because 
it is the key of this mystery for you and for me. I 
might rather have said charitably, for charity, says 
St. Bernard, is joyous ; and this he says after St. Paul. 
Humble services, and matters of exterior humility are 
only the bark, but this preserves the fruit. 

Continue your communions and exercises, as I have 
written to you. Keep your soul very closely this year 
to the meditatiom of the life and death of our Lord : 
it is the gate of heaven ; if you keep his company 
you will learn his disposition. Have a great and 
long-suffering courage ; do not lose it for mere noise, 
and specially not in temptations against faith. Our 
enemy is a great clatterer, do not trouble yourself at 
all about him ; he cannot hurt you, I well know. 
Mock at him and let him go on. Do not strive with 
him, ridicule him, for it is all nothing. He has 
howled round about the Saints, and made plenty of 
hubbub; but to what purpose? In spite of it all, 
there they are, seated in the place which he has lost, 
the wretch ! 

I want you to look at the 41st chapter of the 
Way of Perfection by the blessed Mother St. Teresa, 
for it will help you to understand well the doctrine 
which I have told you so often, that we must not be 
too minute in the exercises of virtues ; that we must 
walk open-heartedly, frankly, naively, after the old 
fashion (a la vieille Franqoise), with liberty, in good 

144 5"/. Francis de Sales. 

faith, in a broad way (grosso modo). I fear the spirit 
of constraint and melancholy. No, my dear child, 
I desire that you should have a heart large and noble, 
in the way of our Lord, but humble, gentle, and 
without laxness. 

I commend myself to the little but penetrating 
prayers of our Celse-Benigne ; and if Aimee begins 
to give me some little wishes, I shall hold them very 
dear. ' I give you, and your widow's heart, and your 
children, every day to our Lord, when offering his 
Son. Pray for me, my dear child, that one day we may 
see one another with all the saints in Paradise : my 
desire to love you and to be loved by you has no less 
measure than eternity. May the sweet Jesus will to 
give us this in his love and dilection ! Amen. I am 
then, and wish to be eternally, entirely yours in Jesus 

To Madame the Countess de Dalet. 

Duties of a widow towards her parents and children. The love 
of parents has great claims. 

2$th April, 162 1. 
MadAi\ie ; — I should be much troubled in writing to you 
on this present subject, if I were not authorized by 
Madame, your mother ; for on what ground could I put 
my hand to what passes between you two, and how 
appeal to your conscience, knowiug that you are the 

Letters to Widows. 145 

only and worthy daughter of a worthy mother, who is 
full of sense, prudence, and piety ? But since I must, 
then, under this authorization, I will say, Madame, that 
your mother tells me all that she has told you herself 
and got told you by many excellent persons (in compari- 
son with whom I am nothing) to bring you round to 
the desire she has that you deprive her not of your filial 
help, in these great straits, to which the occurrences 
you know of have reduced her. She cannot bear to 
see her estate fall under the burden, and above all, for 
the want of your help, which she considers to be all 
that is necessary. 

She proposes three plans for this: either that you 
retire altogether into religion, in order that the 
creditors may no longer want you as security, and 
that she may have the free disposal of your children's 
property ; or that you marry again with the advantages 
which are offered you ; or that you remain with her 
and keep a common purse. She gives in her letter 
the exceptions you take to the first two plans. She 
says you have vowed your chastity to God, and that 
you have four very little children, of whom two are 
girls, but about the third plan I see nothing in her 

As to the first I do not want to interpose my judg- 
ment on the question whether your vow obliges you 
not to ask a dispensation (although she alleges a great 
precipitation which may have prevented due con- 
sideration), for indeed the purity of chastity is of such 
high price that whoever has vowed it is very happy to 


146 St. Francis de Sales. 

keep it, and there is nothing to prefer to it except the 
necessity of the public good. 

As to the second, I do not know whether you can 
lawfully give up that care of your children which God 
has required from you in making you their mother, 
and they being so little. 

But, as to the third, Madame, I say that your purse 
ought to be common with your mother, in a case of 
such great necessity. O God! it is the least we owe 
to father and mother. I fancy I can indeed discern 
some reason why. I think a daughter, so placed with 
children, may keep her purse to herself; but I do 
not know whether this reason exists in your case : 
and if it does, it must be very clear and strong, and 
bear to be seen and examined thoroughly. Amongst 
enemies, extreme necessity makes all things common; 
but amongst friends, and such friends as daughters 
and mothers, we must not wait for extreme necessity, 
for the command of God urges us too much. In such 
cases we must lift up eyes and heart to the providence 
of God, who returns abundantly all that we give 
according to his holy commandment. 

I say too much, Madame ; for I had no right to speak 
on this, except to refer your dear conscience, in this 
regard, to those to whom you confide it. 

"For the rest, as to your spiritual exercises, your 
mother is content that you perform them after your 
customary manner, except your retreats at Sainte- 
Marie, which she wishes limited to the great feasts of 
the year, to three days in each forty. You may also 

Letters to Widows. 147 

be content with this, and supply by spiritual retreats 
at home, the length of those you could make at Sainte- 

O my God ! dear lady, what we should do for 
fathers and mothers ! and how lovingly must we sup- 
port the excess, the zeal and the ardour, I had almost 
said the importunity of their love ! These mothers, — 
they are altogether wonderful (admirables) : they would 
like, I think, always to carry their children, particularly 
the only child, at their breasts. They often feel jealous 
if one takes a little amusement out of their presence ; 
they consider that they are never enough loved, and 
that the love which is due to them can never be full- 
measured except when beyond proper measure. How 
can we mend this ? We must have patience, and do, 
as nearly as we can, all that is required to correspond 
with it. God requires only certain days, certain hours, 
and his presence is quite content that we also be 
present with fathers and mothers : but these are more 
exacting. They require many more days and hours, 
and an undivided presence. Ah ! God is so good that, 
condescending to this, he reckons the accommodation 
of our will to our mother's as accommodation to his, 
provided his good pleasure is the principal end of our 

Well, then, you have Moses and the prophets ; that 
is, so many excellent servants of God : hear them. 
And as for me, I do wrong to occupy you so long, bat 
I have a little pleasure in speaking with a pure and 
chaste soul, and one against which there is no com- 

L % 

* 48 St. Francis de Sales. 

plaint, except for the excess of devotion ; a rare com- 
plaint, so rare and admirable that I cannot help loving 
and honouring her who is accused of it, or being for 
ever, Madame, yours, &c. 


To the Same. 

What assistance children who are masters of their fortune and 
who have a family owe to their parents. 

nth May y 1621. 

Madame, — It is in the presence of God that I write you 
this letter, since it is to tell you what you ought to 
do for his greater glory in the matters you have written 
about. After invoking, then, his Holy Spirit, I say 
that I see no just occasion in all you have told me, or 
your mother has told me, for breaking through the 
vow of chastity which you have made to God. 

1. The keeping up of families is not a considerable 
cause, except for princes, when their posterity is 
required for the public weal ; and even if you were a 
princess, or he that wants you a prince, it could be 
said to you : be satisfied with the posterity you have ; 
and to him : get posterity by another princess. In a 
word, the Holy Spirit has caused it to be distinctly 
declared that no price is worthy of a continent soul* 
Remain then so, since God has inspired you the will 
and graciously gives the power. This great God will 

* Ecclus. xxvi. 20. 

Letters to Widows. 149 

bless your vow, your soul, aud your body, consecrated 
to his name. 

2. It is quite true that you are not at all obligecj 
in justice to assist with your means the estate of your 
father, siuce by the law of the State your and your 
children's property is quite separate from that of your 
father, and he is in no actual necessity ; and parti- 
cularly since you have not really received any part of 
your dowry, which was promised only and not paid. 

3. On the contrary, if it is true that without pre- 
venting your father's ruin you would ruin your chil- 
dren and their property, and yourself, if you took up 
the charges on his estate, you are obliged, at least by 
charity, not to do it ; for what is the use of ruining one 
family without saving another, and applying a remedy 
to an irremediable evil, at your children's expense? 
If, then, you know that your help will be useless to the 
relief of your father, you are obliged not to give it, to 
the prejudice of your children. 

4. But, Madame, if you can help him without injur- 
ing your children, as it seems, apparently, you can, 
since you are an only child ; and as all you can save 
from being sold will come at last to your children, 
your father and mother being unable to have other 
heirs, then I think you ought to do it, for it would 
be only letting go your property with one hand, and 
taking it back with the other. 

5. And even if you should straiten your circum- 
stances in order to content Madame your mother, 
provided that it is not with too much loss to your 

150 "SV. Francis de Sales. 

children, it would seem to me you ought even to do it 
for the respect and love you are obliged to bear her. 

6. As for the rest, I think it would be more for 
your peace, and in accordance with the vow you have 
made of perpetual purity, to live apart, in your little 
way, on the condition that you often see your mother. 
Indeed, if I understand her letter right, she would not 
be grieved if you even became a religious, so long as 
you enabled her by your means to keep possession of 
the family property. 

And in truth, as I am unwilling to counsel a second 
marriage, and unable to encourage the disposition 
which I see in this lady to live in grand style, and 
keep the house open for every kind of proper social 
amusement, I think it will be better for you to live 
apart ; for there is nothing like separation of dwellings 
to preserve union of hearts between those of opposite 
(although good) characters and aims. This is my 
opinion, Madame, on the knowledge I have of the state 
of your affairs. Oh ! if it had pleased God that I 
should have seen you at Lyons, what a consolation for 
me, and how much more certainly and clearly I should 
have been able to explain to you my ideas ! But 
since it has not been so, I will wait to receive your 
reply, in case you may think I have failed to under, 
stand the matter you have proposed to me, and I will 
try to repair my defects. And I beg you, Madame, 
not to form any idea which may take away the liberty 
of writing to me, since I am and shall be entirely and 
without reserve your very humble and very affectionate 

Letters to Widows. 1 5 1 

servant, who wishes you the highest of the graces of 
our Lord, and above all a continual progress in the 
most holy sweetness of charity, and the sacred humility 
of the most amiable Christian simplicity. I cannot 
prevent myself saying that I found what you said in 
your letter very sweet — namely, that your house is a 
common one and no better; for this is delightful in 
an age when the children of the world make such a 
great noise about their houses, their names, and their 
descent. Live always so, my dearest child, and glory 
only in the cross of our Lord, by which the world is 
crucified to you and you to the world. Amen. I 
call myself henceforth with all my heart, Madame, 
your, &c. 


To a Lady. 

The virtues which spring in the midst of afflictions are 
the most solid. 
My dearest Mother, — I share by compassion in the 
bitter griefs you suffer, and yet I fail not to find much 
consolation in that you suffer them with a spirit of 
resignation. My dear mother, the virtues which grow 
in prosperity are generally delicate and weakly : and 
those in afflictions are strong and stable, just as the 
best vines are said to grow among stones. 

I pray God ever to be in the midst of your heart, 
that it may not be overturned by such shocks, and 

1 5 2 6Y. Francis de Sales. 

that sharing with you his cross, he may communicate 
his holy patience, and that Divine love which makes 
tribulations so precious. 

I will never cease to invoke the help of this eternal 
Father for a daughter whom I honour and cherish as 
my mother. 

I am, my dear mother, yours in our Lord, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

On the choice of a director. Remedies Jor temptations against 
faith. Rules of conduct for the use of a Christian widow. 
Liberty of spirit. 

14th October, 1604. 

Madame, — May God give me as much power as I have 
will to make myself clearly understood in this letter ! 
I am sure that I should give you consolation about 
part of what you want to know from me, and particu- 
larly in the two doubts which the enemy suggests to 
you on the choice you have made of me as you spiri- 
tual father. I will do what I can to express in a few 
words what I think necessary for you on this subject. 
As to the first doubt, the choice you have made 
has all the marks of a good and legitimate election. 
The great movement of soul, which brought you to 
it almost by force, and with consolation ; the considera- 
tion which I have given to it before consenting j the fact 
that neither of us trusted self, but used the judgment of 
your confessor, a good, wise and prudent man; that 

Letters to Widows. 153 

we gave time for the first agitations of your conscience 
to grow quiet, supposing they were ill-founded ; that 
the prayers, not of one or two days, but of many 
months, went before ; — these are, undoubtedly, infal- 
lible signs that it was the will of God. 

The movements of the bad spirit or the human 
spirit are of a very different kind. They are terrible 
and vehement, but without constancy. The first word 
they say in the ear of the soul is to avoid counsel ; 
or if it takes counsel it must be that of people of no 
weight, and without experience. They hurry, they 
want to make a bargain without stating terms, and 
content themselves with a short prayer, which only 
serves as a pretext to decide the most important 

There is nothing like this in our action. It is 
neither you nor I that formed the contract : but a 
third person, who in this can have regarded only God. 
The difficulty I made in the beginning, which pro- 
ceeded only from the deliberation which I was bound 
to give to it, ought completely to reassure you. For 
be certain it was from no want of a very great incli- 
nation to your spiritual service ; this I had beyond 
words ; but because in a thing of such consequence I 
wanted to follow neither your desire nor my inclina- 
tion but God and Providence. Stop there, I beseech, 
and dispute no more with the enemy on this subject ; 
tell him boldly that it is God who wanted it and did 
it. It was God who placed you under that first direc- 
tion, profitable to you at that time ; it is God who 

154 St. Francis de Sales. 

has brought you to this, which, though the instrument 
of it is un worthy , he will make fruitful and useful to 

As to the second doubt, my dearest sister, know 
that as I have just said, from the beginning of your 
conferring with me about your interior, God gave me 
a great love of your soul. When you opened your- 
self to me more particularly, it was an obligation on 
my soul to cherish yours more and more, which made 
me write to you that God had given me to you. I 
do not believe that anything could be added to the 
affection I felt in my soul, and above all when pray- 
ing to God for you. 

But now, my dear child, a certain new quality has 
developed which I seem unable to name. I can only, 
say its effect is a great interior sweetness which I feel 
in wishing you the perfection of the love of God, and 
other spiritual benedictions. No, I do not add a 
single line to the truth ; I speak before the God of 
my heart and yours : every affection has its particu- 
lar difference from others : that which I have for you 
has a certain specialty which immensely consoles me, 
and which, to say all, is extremely profitable to me. 
Hold that for the truest truth, and doubt it no more. 
I did not mean to say so much, but one word brings 
on another, and besides I think you will apply it pro- 

It is remarkable, I think, my child, that the holy 
church of God, in imitation of her Spouse, does not 
teach us to pray for ourselves in particular, but always 

Letters to Widows, 1 5 5 

for ourselves and for our Christian brethren : Give us, 
she says : grant us, and such like terms, which include 
many. I had never happened to think, under this 
general form of speech, of any particular person : but 
since I left Dijon, under this form, us, several persons 
who have recommended themselves to me have come 
into my mind, — yourself almost always the first ; and 
when not the first, which is rarely, then the last, to 
dwell more on it. Can I say more than that ? But, 
do not communicate this to any one ; for I say a little 
too much about it, though with all truth and purity. 

This is quite enough now to answer henceforth all 
those suggestions, or at least to give you courage to 
laugh at their author, and to spit in his face. I will 
tell you the rest one day, either in this world or in 
the other. 

In the third place you ask me for remedies in the 
trouble caused you by the wicked one's temptations 
against faith and the Church j for so I understand you. 
I will say what God gives me to say. 

In this temptation you must behave as in tempta- 
tions of the flesh, disputing neither little nor much. 
Do as did the Children of Israel with the bones of the 
Paschal Lamb, which they did not even try to break, 
but simply threw into the fire. You must not reply 
at all, nor appear to hear what the enemy says. Let 
him clamour as he likes at the door ; you must not 
say as much as, Who goes there t 

True, you will tell me, but he worries me, and his 
noise makes those within unable to hear one another 

1 5 6 St. Francis de Sales. 

speak. It is all the same ; patience, — we must pro- 
strate ourselves before God, and remain there at his 
feet : he will understand, by this humble behaviour, 
that you are his, and that you want his help, though 
you cannot even speak. But above all keep yourself 
well shut in, and open not the door at all, either to 
see who it is or to drive the nuisance away ; at last 
he will get tired of crying out, aud will leave you in 

And never too soon, you will say. I pray you get 
a book called On Tribulation, composed by Father 
llibadaneira, in Spanish, and translated into French. 
The Father Rector will tell you where it is printed ; 
read it carefully. Courage, then, it will come to an 
end at last; provided he enter not, it matters not. 
And meanwhile it is an excellent sign when the enemy 
beats and blusters at the door; for it is a sign that 
he has not got what he wants. If he had it, he would 
not cry out any more, he would enter and stay. Take 
note of this, so as not to fall into scruple. 

After this remedy, I give you another. Tempta- 
tions against faith go straight to the understanding, 
to make it parley, and think, and dream about them. 
Do you know what you must do while the enemy is 
occupied trying to escalade the intelligence ? Sally 
out by the gate of the will, and make a good attack 
on him. That is, when a temptation against faith 
comes to engage you : — how can this be? but if this, 
but z/ that? — instead of disputing with the enemy by 
argument, let your affective part rush forth vehe- 

Letters to Widows. 157 

mently upon him, and even joining the exterior voice 
to the interior, cry : Ah ! traitor, ah ! wretch, thou 
hast left the church of the angels, and wishest me to 
leave the church of the saints ! Disloyal, faithless, 
perfidious one, thou didst present to the first woman 
the apple of perdition, and thou wantest me to eat of 
it ! Get thee behind me, Satan ! It is written : thou 
shalt not tempt the Lord thy God* No, I will not 
reason or dispute. Eve wishing to dispute with the 
devil was seduced and ruined. Vive Jesus, in whom 
I believe ! Vive the Church, to which I cling ! and 
similar words of fire. 

You must also say words to Jesus Christ, and to 
the Holy Spirit (such as he will suggest to you), and 
even to the Church : O mother of the children of God, 
never will I separate myself from you, I will to live 
and die in your bosom. 

I know not if I make myself understood. I mean 
to say that we must fight back with affections and 
not with reasons ; with passions of the heart and not 
with considerations of the mind. It is true that in 
these times of temptations the poor will is quite dry; 
but so much the better : its acts will be so much the 
more terrible to the enemy, who, seeing that instead 
of retarding your progress he gives you an opportu- 
nity of exercising a thousand virtuous affections, and 
particularly the protestation of faith, will leave you at 

In the third place, it will be sometimes good to 
* Matt. iv. 

158 St. Francis de Sales. 

apply fifty or sixty strokes of the discipline, or thirty, 
as you may be disposed. It is remarkable how good 
this recipe was found in a soul whom I know. It is, 
doubtless, because the exterior pain diverts the in- 
terior mischief and affliction, and provokes the mercy 
of God. Add that the wicked one, seeing that his 
partisan and confederate the flesh is getting beaten, 
fears and flees. But this third remedy must be used 
with moderation, and according to the profit you find 
from it after the experience of some days. 

In fine, these temptations are only afflictions, 
like others ; and we must stay ourselves on the saying 
of Holy Scripture : Blessed is he that suffers tempta- 
tion; for when he has been tried he shall receive the 
crown of glory * Know that I have seen few persons 
make progress without this trial, and we must have 
patience. Our God, after the storms will send the 
calm. But above all use the first and second remedy. 

For the fourth point, I am not willing to change 
the offerings you made the first time you vowed your- 
self, nor the condition which was appointed you, nor 
any other thing. 

As to your daily prayers, this is my* counsel. In 
the morning make the meditation with the preparation 
as I have marked it in the writing which I send for 
this purpose. Add the Paternoster, Ave Maria, Credo, 
Veni Creator, Ave Maris Stella, Angele Dei, and a 
short prayer to the two Saints John, and the two Saints 
Francis of Assisi and of Paula, which you will find in 
* James i. 12. 

Letters to Widows. 159 

the Breviary, or perhaps you already have them in 
the little book you mean to send me. Salute all the 
Saints with this vocal prayer : 

Holy Mary, and all Saints, deign to intercede for us 
with our Lord, that we may obtain to be helped and 
saved by him who liveth and reigneth, world without 
end. Amen* 

Having saluted the Saints who are in heaven, say a 
Paternoster and Ave for the faithful departed, and 
another for the faithful living. Thus you will have 
visited all the church, one part of which is in heaven, 
another on earth, another under the earth, as St. Paul 
and St. John witness. This will take you a full 

Hear Mass every day, if possible, in the manner 
which I have described in writing on meditation. 

And either at Mass or in the course of the day I 
wish the Rosary to be said with the greatest devotion 

Throughout the day, plenty of ejaculatory prayers, 
and specially those of the hours when they strike; 
this is a useful devotion. 

In the evening before supper, I approve of a short 
recollection, with five Paternosters and Ave Marias, 
to the five wounds of our Lord. The recollection 
may be made by the entrance of the soul into one of 
the five wounds of our Lord for five days, into the 
thorns of the crown for the sixth, and into his pierced 
side for the seventh : for there we must begin the week, 
* Prayer at Prime. 

160 St. Francis de Sales. 

and there end it; that is, on Sundays we must return 
to this heart. 

In the evening, about an hour or an hour and 
a half before supper, retire, and say the Paternoster, 
the Ave, the Credo : this done, the Confiteor up to 
meet culpa ; then the examination of conscience ; after 
which finish the med culpa, and say the Litany of our 
Lady of Loretto, or, in order, the seven Litanies of 
our Lord, our Lady, the Angels, and the others as 
they are in a book made for this purpose. This book 
is not easy to find ; and therefore, if you cannot get 
them, the Litany of our Lady will do. This will take 
you nearly half an hour. 

Every day take a good half-hour's spiritual reading, 
this is quite enough for each day. On Feasts you 
can assist at Vespers, and say the office of our Lady. 
But if you have a great taste for the prayers you have 
been used to say, do not change, I beg. And if you 
happen to omit something that I order, do not make a 
scruple of it; for here is the general rule of our 
obedience written in great letters : 




I leave you the spirit of liberty ; not that which 
excludes obedience, for this is the liberty of the flesh ; 
but that which excludes constraint, and scruple, and 
worry (empressemenf). 

If you very much love obedience and submission, I 

Letters to Widows. 1 6 1 

wish that if a just or charitable necessity require you 
to omit your exercises you should make this a species 
of obedience, and supply the defect by love. 

I wish you to have a French translation of all the 
prayers you say. I do not want you to say them in 
French, but in Latin, for they will give you more 
devotion; but I want you to have the meaning at 
hand, even in the Litanies of Jesus, of our Lady, and 
the others. But do all this without anxiety, and in a 
spirit of sweetness and love. 

Your meditations will be on the life and death of 

our Lord I approve your using the Exercises 

of Thauler, Meditations of St. Bonaventure, and those 
of Capiglia ; for being on the Gospels they are on the 
life of our Lord. But you must reduce all to the 
method I send you in this paper. The meditations 
of the four ends of man will be useful to you, on 
condition that you always finish with an act of 
confidence in God, never representing to yourself 
death or hell on the one side without the cross on the 
other j so that, after exciting yourself to fear by the 
one you may return to the other by confidence. The 
hour of meditation must be only three-quarters 
at most. 

I love spiritual canticles, sung with affection. 

As to the ass (body) I approve the fast of Friday, 
and the frugal supper of the Saturday. I approve 
your keeping it down the whole of the week, not so 
much by abstinence from meats (sobriety being 
observed) as by abstinence from choice in them. I 


1 62 5/. Francis de Sales. 

approve your flattering it sometimes, giving it some 
oats to eat, as St. Francis did, to make it go quicker. 
I mean the discipline ; which has a wonderful force, 
by stinging the flesh to quicken the spirit ; but only 
use it twice a week. 

You must not lessen the frequency of your 
communions, unless your confessor orders it. I have 
this particular consolation, on Feast-days, namely, to 
know that we are going to communion together. 

For the fifth point, it is the truth that I cherish, 
with a very special love, our Celse-Benigne, and all 
the rest of your children. Since God has given your 
heart this desire to give them entirely to the service of 
God, you must bring them up in this design, sweetly 
inspiring suitable thoughts. Have the Confessions 
of St. Augustine, and read them carefully from the end 
of the eighth book ; you will there see St. Monica, a 
widow, with the care of her Augustine, and many 
things which will console you. 

As to Celse-Benigne, you must suggest generous 
motives, and plant in his little soul the noblest and 
most gallant aspirations after the service of God, and 
impress on him a very low idea of mere worldly 
glory ; but this little by little. In proportion as he 
grows up, we will think of the particular things 
required, God helping. 

Meanwhile, take care, not only about him, but 
about his sisters, that they sleep alone as far as 
possible, or with persons in whom you have as full 
confidence as in yourself. I cannot tell you how 

Letters to Widows. 1 63 

important this advice is ; experience recommends it 
to me every day. 

If Frances wishes, of her own accord, to be a 
religious, it is well : otherwise I do not approve that 
her will should be anticipated by resolutions, but only, 
like the others, by sweet attractions (inspirations). 

We must, as much as we can, act on souls as 
the angels do, by gracious and gentle movements. 
But I quite approve that you have her brought up in 
the order of Puy-d'Orbe, in which I hope devotion is 
soon going to begin to flourish again in good earnest. 
And I want you to co-operate in this intention. But 
from all the girls keep away vanity of soul : it is 
almost born with the sex. 

I know you have the Epistles of St. Jerome in 
French: look at what he says of Pacatula and the 
others, about the education of girls: they will do you 
good. Still you must use moderation. I have said 
all when I have said " sweet attractions." 

I see that you owe 2,000 crowns; hasten the 
payment all you can, and be sure to avoid retaining 
anything of any one's, as far as possible. 

Give some little alms, but with great humility. I 
like the visitation of the sick, of the old, and women 
chiefly, and of the young when quite young. I like 
the visitation of the poor ; particularly of women, with 
great humility and mildness. 

For the sixth point, I approve your dividing your 
abode between your father and your father-in-law, and 
that you occupy yourself in procuring the good of 

M 2 

164 St. Francis de Sales. 

their souls, after the fashion of the angels, as I have 
said. If the stay at Dijon is a little longer, no 
matter : it is also your primary duty. Try to make 
yourself every day more agreeable to both your fathers, 
and further their salvation in a spirit of sweetness. 
No doubt the winter will suit you better at Dijon. 

I am writing to your father, and as he had com- 
manded me to write him something for the good of 
his soul, I have done it with much simplicity, perhaps 
too much. 

My advice lies in two points : one, that he should 
make a general review of all his life for a general 
confession ; a thing without which no man of honour 
should die; the other that he should try little by 
little to despoil himself of worldly affections — and I 
tell him the way to do it. 

I propose this to him, in my opinion clearly and 
gently enough ; and with this conclusion, that we 
must not exactly break through the ties of alliance 
which we have with the affairs of the world, but 
unsew and undo them. He will shew you the letter, 
I doubt not. Help him to understand and practise it. 

You owe him a great charity in leading him to a 
happy end, and no consideration should hinder you 
from employing yourself in this with a holy ardour ; 
for he is the first neighbour whom God obliges you to 
love ; and the first part you should love in him is his 
soul, and in his soul the conscience, and in his con- 
science, purity, and in purity the seizing hold of eternal 
life. I say the same to your father-in-law. 

Letters to Widows. 165 

Perhaps your honoured father, not knowing me, will 
find my freedom improper; but make me known to 
him, and I am sure he will love me for this freedom 
more than for anything else. 

I am writing to Monseigneur de Bourges a letter of 
five sheets, in which I point out to him the method of 
preaching, and with this I tell him my opinion about 
several points of the life of an archbishop. "Well, as 
for him, I have no doubt he will find it agreeable. In 
fine, what would you further? Father, brother, uncle, 
children, all are infinitely dear to me. 

As for the seventh point, about the spirit of liberty, 
I will tell you what it is. 

Every good man is free from acts of mortal sin, and 
does not keep any affection to it. This is a liberty 
necessary for salvation. I do not speak of this ; the 
liberty of which I speak is the liberty of well-beloved 
children. And what is it? It is a detachment of the 
Christian heart from all things to follow the known will 
of God. You will easily understand what I mean to 
say, if God gives me the grace to propose to you the 
marks, signs, effects, occasions of this liberty. 

We ask from God before all things, that his name 
may be hallowed, his kingdom come, his will be done 
on earth as it is in heaven. 

All this is no other thing than the spirit of liberty; 
for provided that the name of God is sanctified, that 
his majesty reigns in you, that his will is done, the 
soul cares for nothing else. First mark : the soul 
which has this liberty is not attached to consolations, 

1 66 St. Francis de Sales. 

but receives afflictions with all the sweetness that the 
flesh can permit. I do not say that it does not love 
and desire consolations, hut I say that it does not 
attach its heart to them. Second mark : it does not 
at all attach its affection to spiritual exercises; so that, 
if by sickness or other accident kept from them, it feels 
no grief thereat. Here also I do not say it does not 
love them, but I say it is not attached to them. 

Such a heart scarcely loses its joyfulness, because 
no privation makes him sad whose heart is quite un- 
attached. I do not say he does not lose it, but that 
he scarcely loses it, that is, only for a short time. 

The effects of this liberty are a great suavity of 
soul, a great gentleness and condescension in all that 
is not sin or danger of sin ; a temper sweetly pliable to 
the acts of every virtue and charity. 

For example : interrupt a soul which is attached to 
the exercise of meditation ; you will see it leave with 
annoyance, worried and surprised. A soul which has 
true liberty will leave its exercise with an equal coun- 
tenance, and a heart gracious towards the importunate 
person who has inconvenienced her. For it is all one 
to her whether she serve God by meditating, or serve 
him by bearing with her neighbour : both are the will 
of God, but the bearing with her neighbour is necessary 
at that time. 

The occasions of this liberty are all the things which 
happen against our inclination; for whoever is not 
attached to his inclinations, is not impatient when they 
are contradicted. 

Letters to Widows. 167 

This liberty has two opposite vices, instability and 
constraint, or dissolution and slavery. Instability, or 
dissolution of spirit, is a certain excess of liberty, by 
which we change our exercises, our state of life, with- 
out proof or knowledge that such change is God's 
will. On the smallest occasion practices, plan, rule 
are changed; for every little occurrence we leave our 
rule and laudable custom : and, thus the heart is dissi- 
pated and ruined, and is like an orchard open on all 
sides, whose fruits are not for its owners, but for all 
passers by. 

Constraint or slavery is a certain want of liberty by 
which the soul is overwhelmed with either disgust or 
anger, when it cannot do what it has planned, though 
still able to do better. 

For example : I design to make my meditation every 
day in the morning. If I have the spirit of insta- 
bility, or dissolution, on the least occasion in the 
world 1 shall put it off till the evening — for a dog 
which kept me from sleeping, for a letter I have to 
write, of no urgency whatever. On the other hand, 
if I have the spirit of constraint or servitude, I 
shall not leave my meditation at that hour, even 
if a sick person have great need of my help at the 
time, even if I have a despatch which is of great 
importance, and which cannot well be put off, and 
so on. 

It remains for me to give you one or two examples 
of this liberty which will better make you understand 
what I cannot properly describe. But first I must tell 

1 68 St Francis de Sales. 

you that you are to observe two rules, to avoid stumbling 
in this point. 

A person shonld never omit his exercises and the 
common rules of virtues unless he sees the will of God 
on the other side. Now, the will of God shows itself 
in two ways, by necessity and charity. I want to preach 
this Lent in a little place of my diocese ; if, however, 
I get ill, or break my leg, I must not be grieved or 
disquieted because I cannot preach ; for it is certainly 
the will of God that I should serve him by suffering 
and not by preaching. Or if I am not ill, but an 
occasion presents itself of going to some other place, 
where, if I go not, the people will become Huguenots, — 
there is the will of God sufficiently declared to turn 
me gently from my design. 

The second rule is that when we are to use liberty 
for the sake of charity, it mast be without scandal 
and without injustice. For example : I may know that 
I should be more useful somewhere very far from my 
diocese. I cannot use liberty in this; for I should 
scandalize and commit injustice, because I am obliged 
to be here. Hence, this liberty never interferes with 
vccations ; on the contrary, it makes each one satisfied 
with his own, since each should know that he is placed 
in it by the will of God. 

Now, I want you to look at Cardinal Borromeo, who 
is going to be canonized in a few days. His was a 
spirit the most exact, rigid, and austere that it is pos- 
sible to imagine : he drank nothing but water, and eat 
nothing but bread; he was so austere that, after he 

Letters to Widows. 169 

was archbishop, he only entered twice during twenty- 
four years into the house of his brothers, when ill, and 
twice into his garden. Yet, this rigorous soul, when 
eating with the Swiss, his neighbours, as he often did 
to keep a good influence over them, made no difficulty 
in drinking bumpers and healths with them, besides 
what he drank for his thirst. There is a trait of holy 
liberty in the most austere man of this age. A dis- 
solute spirit would have done too much ; a constrained 
spirit would have considered it a mortal sin; a spirit 
of liberty would have done it for charity. 

Spiridion, an ancient bishop, having received a pil- 
grim almost dead with hunger, during Lent, and in a 
place in which there was nothing but salt-meat, had 
some of this cooked, and offered it to the pilgrim. 
The pilgrim was unwilling to take it, in spite of his 
necessity. Spiridion had no need of it, but ate some 
first for charity, in order to remove, by his example, 
the scruple of the pilgrim. Here was a charitable 
liberty in this holy man. 

Father Ignatius of Loyola, who is going to be 
canonized, ate meat on Wednesay in Holy Week on 
the simple order of the doctor, who judged it expedient 
for a little sickness he had. A spirit of constraint 
would have had to be besought three days. 

But I want now to show you a shining sun of 
detachment, a spirit truly free, and unbound by any 
engagement, and holding only to the will of God. I 
have often thought what was the greatest mortifica- 
tion of all the Saints I know ; and after many con- 

1 70 St Francis de Sales. 

sideratious I have found this : St. John Baptist went 
into the desert at the age of five years, and knew that 
our and his Saviour was born quite near him, that is, 
one day's journey, or two or three, or so. God knows 
whether St. John's heart, touched with the love of his 
Saviour from the womb of his mother, desired to enjoy 
his holy presence. Yet he stays twenty-five years 
there in the desert, -without going even once to see 
our Saviour. Then he stays everywhere to catechize, 
without going to our Lord, and waits for him to go to 
him : afterwards, having baptized our Lord, he does 
not follow him, but stays to do his own work. O 
God ! what a mortification of spirit ! To be so near 
his Saviour, and not to see him ! to have him so near 
and not to enjoy him ! And what is this but to have 
the heart free from all, even from God himself, to do 
the will of God and to serve him ? To leave God for 
God, and not to love God, in order so much better 
and more purely to love him ! This example over- 
whelms my soul with its grandeur. 

I forgot to say that the will of God is known not 
only by necessity and charity, but by obedience ; so 
that he who receives a command must believe that it 
is the will of God. Am I not writing too much ? 
but my spirits runs quicker than I wish, carried on 
by the ardent desire of serving you. 

For the eighth point, remember the day of the 
blessed King St. Louis, the day on which you took 
again the crown of your kingdom from your own 
soul to lay it at the feet of the King Jesus : the day 

Letters to Widows. 1 7 1 

on which you renewed your youth, like the eagle, 
plunging it in the sea of penance ; a day, the harbin- 
ger of the eternal day of your soul. Remember that 
after the grand resolutions you expressed of being all 
God's, body, heart, and soul, I said Amen, on behalf 
of the whole Church our Mother : and at the same 
time, the Holy Virgin, with all the Saints and blessed 
made their great Amen and Alleluia resound in 
heaven. Remember to hold that all the past is 
nothing, and that every day you must say with David : 
now I have begun * to love my God properly. Do 
much for God, and do nothing without love. Apply 
all to this love ; eat and drink for it. 

Be devout to St. Louis, and admire in him his great 
constancy. He was king at twelve, had nine children, 
made war continually, against either rebels or the 
enemies of the faith ; was king more than forty years ; 
and at the end of all, his confessor, a holy man, 
swore that having confessed him all his life, he had 
never found that he had fallen into mortal sin. He 
made two voyages beyond the sea : in both he lost his 
army, and in the latter he died of pestilence, after 
having for a long time visited, helped, served, dressed 
and cured the plague-stricken of his army — and dies 
joyous, constant, with a verse of David in his mouth. f 
I give you this saint as your special patron for all the 
year; you will have him before your eyes, with the 
others named above. In the coming year, if it please 

* Ps. lxxvi. 11. 
k f I will enter into your house, Lord, &c. — Ps. v. 8. 

172 Si. Francis de Sales. 

God, I will give you another, after you have profited 
well in the school of this one. 

For the ninth point, believe two things about me : 
— the one that God wants you to make use of me, so 
do not hesitate ; the other, that in what is for your 
salvation, God will help me with light necessary to 
serve you ; as to the will, he has already given it me 
so strong, that it cannot be stronger. I have received 
the note of your vows, which I guard and regard 
(garde et regarde) carefully, as a fit instrument of our 
alliance, entirely founded on God, and which will last 
for eternity, by the mercy of him who is the author 
of it. 

Monseigneur, the Bishop of Saluzzo, one of my 
most intimate friends, and one of the greatest servants 
of God and the Church, died a little while ago, to the 
incredible sorrow of his people, who had only enjoyed 
his labours one year and a half; for we were made 
bishops together and on the very same day. I ask 
you for three chaplets for his repose, certain that if 
he had outlived me he would have procured me 
a like charity from all those with whom he had 

You seem, from one passage of your letter, to con- 
sider it settled that we shall see one another again 
some day. May God will it, my dearest sister ! but 
for my part, I see nothing before my eyes which 
can make me hope to have the liberty to go 
thither ! I told you the reason in confidence, at Saint- 

Letters to Widows. 173 

I am tied here, hand and foot, and as for you, my 

good sister, does not the inconvenience of the past 

ourney frighten you ? But we will see, between this 

and Easter, what God wishes from us : his holy will 

be ever ours. 

I pray you to bless God with me for the effects of 
the voyage of Saint-Claude : I cannot tell them you, 
but they are great ; and at your first leisure write me 
the history of your gate of Saint-Claude,* and believe 
that it is not from curiosity that I ask it. 

My mother is as entirely yours as she can be. I 
have been consoled to see that you willingly call 
Madame du Puy-d'Orbe sister ; she is a great soul if 
w r ell assisted, and God will make use of her to the 
glory of his name ; help her and visit her by letter. 
God will be pleased with you for it. 

If I decide for myself, I shall never finish this letter, 
which is written without other design than to answer 
yours. Still I must finish it, begging the great assis- 
tance of your prayers, and declaring my great need 
of them. I never pray without making you part 
of the subject of my prayers. I never salute the 
angels without saluting yours ; do the same for me, 
and get Celse-Benigne to do it. I always pray for 
him and for all your household ! Be sure I never 
forget them, nor their deceased father, in Holy Mass. 
God be in your heart, your mind, your soul, my 
dearest sister ; and I am in his merciful love, your very 

* Referring to a certain vision of Madame de Chantal's. 

174 Si, Francis de Sales. 

devoted servant, with liberty because it is par homme* 
Pray sometimes for the return of my unfortunate 

* I think this means that his sort of feudal service to Madame 
de Chantal is not direct, but by deputy, as kings acknowledged 
their vassalship. 


To a Friend. 

Way to live in peace. 
If you wish nothing to cross your life, desire 
not reputation or the glory of the world. 

Attach yourself not to human consolations and 

Love not your life, and despise all that may be 
painful to your natural inclinations. 

Support generously the pains of the body and the 
most violent maladies, with acquiescence in the will of 

Trouble not yourself about human judgments. 

Keep silence about all things, and you shall have 
interior peace ; because, for me and for you there is 
no other secret to acquire this peace save to suffer, 
a la rigueur, the judgments of men. 

Disturb not yourself about what the world will say 
of you ; await the judgment of God, and your patience 

i j 6 St Francis de Sales. 

will then judge those who will have judged you. 
Those who run at the ring do not think of the 
company which is looking at them, but of running 
well in order to carry it off. Think for whom you 
labour, and those who wish to give you pain will 
hardly do so. Your humble, &c. 


To a Gentleman who was going to live at Court. 

8th December , 1610. 
Sir, — At last then you are going to make sail, and 
take the open sea of the world at court. God be 
gracious to you, and may his holy hand be ever 
with you ! 

I am not so fearful as many others, and I do not 
think that profession one of the most dangerous for 
those of noble souls and manly heart ; for there are 
but two principal rocks in this gulf: vanity, which 
ruins spirits that are soft, slothful, feminine, and weak 
(Jlouets) ; and ambition, which ruins audacious and 
presumptuous hearts. 

And as vanity is a defect of courage, and has 
not the strength to undertake the acquisition of true 
and solid praise, but desires and is content with the 
false and the empty ; so ambition is an excess of 
courage, which leads us to purchase glories and 
honours without and against the rule of reason. 

Letters to Men of the World. 177 

Thus vanity causes us to occupy ourselves with 
those silly gallantries which are in praise with women 
and other little spirits, and in contempt with great 
hearts and elevated souls ; and ambition makes us 
want to have honours before deserving them. It is 
ambition which makes us put to our own credit, 
and at too high price, the merit of our predecessors, 
and we would willingly gain our esteem from theirs. 

Well, sir, against all this, since it pleases you that 
I speak so, continue to nourish your soul with 
spiritual and Divine meats, for they will make us 
strong against vanity, and just against ambition. 

Keep carefully to frequent communion ; and, 
believe me, you could do nothing more calculated to 
strengthen yourself in virtue. And to make your- 
self quite safe in this practice, put yourself under 
the orders of some good confessor, and beseech him to 
take authority to make you give an account in 
confession of the failures you may make in this 
exercise, if by chance you make any. Always confess 
humbly, and with a true and express purpose of 

Never forget (and this I conjure you) to ask 
on your knees the help of our Lord, before leaving 
your house, and to ask the pardon of your sins before 
going to bed. 

Especially beware of bad books ; and for nothing in 
the world let your soul be carried away by certain 
writings which weak brains admire, because of some 
vain subtleties which thev find therein. Such are the 

178 6*/. Francis de Sales. 

works of that infamous Rabelais, and certain others 
of our age, who profess to doubt everything, to despise 
everything, and to scoff at all the maxims of antiquity. 
On the contrary, have books of solid doctrine, and 
specially Christian and spiritual ones to recreate your- 
self in from time to time. 

I recommend to you the gentle and sincere courtesy 
which offends no one and obliges all ; which seeks 
love rather than honour ; which never rallies any one 
so as to hurt them, nor stingingly ; which repels no 
one and is itself never repelled. Or, if repelled, it is 
but rarely; in exchange for which it is very often 
honourably advanced. 

Take care, I beseech you, not to embarrass your- 
self in love-makings [amourettes), and not to allow 
your affections to prevent your judgment and reason, 
in the choice of objects of love ; for, when once 
inclination has taken its course, it drags the judgment 
like a slave to decisions which are very improper, well 
worthy of the repentance which soon follows them. 

I would wish that, first, in speech, in bearing, and 
in intercourse with others, you should make open and 
express profession of wishing to live virtuously, 
judiciously, persevering] y, and Christianly. 

I say virtuously, that no one may attempt to 
engage you in immoralities. 

Judiciously, that you may not show extreme signs, 
exteriorly, of your intention, but such only as, 
according to your condition, may not be censured by 
the wise. 

Letters to Men of the World. 179 

Perseveringly, because unless you show with per- 
severance an equal and inviolable will, you will expose 
your resolutions to the designs and attempts of many 
miserable souls, who attack others to draw them to 
their company. 

In fine, I say Christianly, because some make 
profession of wishing to be virtuous philosophically 
(ct la philosophique), who, however, are not so, and can 
in no way be so; and are nothing else but phantoms 
of virtue, hiding from those who are not familiar with 
them their bad life and ways by graceful manners and 

But we, who well know that we cannot have a 
single particle of virtue but by the grace of our Lord, 
we must employ piety and holy devotion to live 
virtuously ; otherwise we shall have virtues only in 
imagination and in shadow. 

Now it is of the last importance to let ourselves be 
known early such as we wish to be always, and in this 
we must have no haggling (marchander). 

It is also of the greatest importance to make some 
friends of the like aim, with whom you can associate 
and strengthen yourself. For it is a very true thing 
that the company of well-regulated souls is extremely 
useful to us to keep our own well regulated. 

I think you will easily find either among the 
Jesuits, or the Capuchins, or the Feuillants, or even 
outside the monasteries, some gracious (courtois) 
spirit who will be glad if you sometimes go to see 
him, to recreate yourself, and take spiritual breath. 

N 2 

180 St. Francis de Sales. 

But you must permit me to say to you one thing 
in particular. 

You see, sir, I fear you may return to gaming, and 
I fear it, because it will be to you a great evil : it 
would, in a few days, dissipate your "heart, and make 
all the flowers of your good desires wither. It is the 
occupation of an idler; and those who want to get 
renown and introductions by playing with the great, 
and who call this the best way of getting known, show 
that they have no good deserts, since they have no 
better credit than that of having money and wanting 
to risk it. It is no great merit to be known as game- 
sters ; but if they meet with great losses every one 
knows them to be fools. I pass over the consequences, 
such as quarrels, despair and madnesses, from which 
not one gamester has any exemption. 

I wish you, further, a vigorous heart, not to flat- 
ter your body by delicacies, in eating, sleeping, and 
such other softnesses : for a generous heart has 
always a little contempt for bodily comforts and 

Still our Lord said that those who are clothed in 
soft garments are in the houses of kings* therefore do 
I speak to you about it. Our Lord does not mean 
to say that all those who are in king's houses must 
be clothed in soft garments, but he says only that 
customarily those who clothe themselves softly are 
there. Of course I am not speaking of the exterior 
of the clothing, but of the interior ; for as to the ex- 
* Matt. xi. 8. 

Letters to Men of the World. 181 

terior, you know far better what is proper ; it is not 
for me to speak of it. 

I mean, then, to say that I would like you some- 
times to correct your body so far as to make it feel 
some rigours and hardships ; by the contempt of deli- 
cacies, and by frequent denial of things agreeable to 
the senses; for, again, the reason must sometimes 
exercise its superiority, and the authority which it has 
to control the sensual appetites. 

My God ! I am too diffuse, and I scarcely know 
what I am saying, for it is without leisure^ and at odd 
moments ; you know my heart, and will take all well ; 
but still I must further say this. 

Imagine that you were a courtier of St. Louis; this 
holy king (and the king * is now holy by innocence) 
loved that every one should be brave, courageous, 
generous, good-humoured, courteous, affable, free, 
polite; and still he loved, above all, that every one 
should be a good Christian. 

And if you had been with him, you would have 
seen him kindly laughing on occasion, speaking boldly 
at proper time, taking care that all was in splendour 
about him, like another Solomon, to maintain the 
royal dignity; and a moment afterwards serving the 
poor in the hospitals, and, in a word, marrying civil 
with Christian virtue, and majesty with humility. 

In a word, this is what we must try after ; to be 
no less brave for being Christian, and no less Chris- 
tian for being brave ; and for this we must be very 
* Louis XIII., aged nine years. 

i 8 2 Si. Francis de Sales. 

good Christians, that is, very devout, pious, and if 
passible, spiritual ; for, as St. Paul says : the spiritual 
man discerneth all things ; he knows at what time, 
in what order, by what method, each virtue must be 

Form often this good thought, that we are walking 
in this world between Paradise and Hell, that our last 
step will place us in an eternal dwelling, and that to 
make the last well, we must try to make all the others 

O holy and unending eternity ! blessed is he who 
thinks of you. Yes ; for what do we play here in 
this world but a children's game ? Nothing whatever, 
if it were not the passage to eternity. 

On this account, therefore, we must pay attention 
to the time we have to dwell here below, and to all 
our occupations, so as to employ them in the conquest 
of the permanent good. 

Love me always as yours {chose votre), for I am so 
in our Lord, wishing you every happiness for this 
world, and particularly for the other : may God bless 
you, and hold you by his holy hand. 

And to finish where I began : you are going to 
take the high sea of the world; change not, on that 
account, patron or sails, or anchor, or wind. Have 
Jesus always for your patron, his cross for a mast, on 
which you must spread your resolutions as a sail : your 
anchor shall be a profound confidence in him, — and sail 
prosperously; may the favourable wind of celestial 
* i Cor. ii, 15. 

Letters to Men of the World. 183 

inspirations ever fill your vessel's sails fuller and 
fuller, and make you happily arrive at the port of a 
holy eternity, which with true heart is wished you, 
sir, by your, &c. 

To a Man of the World. 

To speak too much is the worst kind of ill-speaking. 

Sir, — You have greatly obliged me by taking my 
frankness in good part, though truly you could not 
well refuse it this gracious welcome, since it went to 
you with the safe-conduct of your invitation, and under 
the favour of a true friendship ; otherwise I would have 
taken good care not to send it. I will by no means 
return upon the declaration it pleases you to make to 
me of your intention in the edition of the little book,* 
for I should be sorry if I had ever had a single little 
suspicion to the contrary : but I will only say this 
word which springs from the disposition of my soul. 

If any one had spoken or written extravagantly of 
authority, he would be very wrong; for there is no 
way of bad speaking worse than too much speaking. 
If we say less than we should it is easy to add : but 
after having said too much it is hard to take off, and 

* St. Francis had disapproved a book of which his correspondent 
was the author, or which had at least been published by his 

184 St. Francis de Sales. 

we can never make the withdrawal soon enough to 
hinder the harm of the excess. 

Now, this is the height of virtue, to correct immo- 
deration moderately. It is almost impossible to arrive 
at this point of perfection. I say almost, because of 
him who said, / was peaceful with those who hated 
peace* Otherwise, I think I should not have said 
it. Huntsmen push into the brambles, and often 
return more injured than the animal they intended to 
injure. The greater part of these ill-advised state- 
ments which are made or written are better met by 
disdain than by opposition ; but let us speak of them 
no more. To Csesar what is Caesar's, but to God also 
what is God's. 

I write to you without leisure, you will bear with, 
me, please, according to your kindness, having regard 
to my affection which is entirely inclined to honour 
and cherish you very specially. And now, I pray our 
Lord to fill you with the grace, peace, and sweetness 
of his holy spirit, and to give his sacred benediction 
to all your family ; leaving beyond this, the bearer to 
tell you how well our daughter is, I am your, &c. 


To an Author. 

A magistrate who had sent him, a book of Christian poetry. 

Sir, — It has been to me an extremely grateful honour 

to have received from you these rich and devout 

* Ps. cxix. 6. 

Letters to Men of the World. 185 

studies which the Rev. Father Angelus le Blanc has 
handed me; and if I had the rich scented casket or 
cabinet steeped in unguents, which that prince of old, 
Alexander the Great, destined for the keeping of the 
works of Homer, I would destine it also for the 
treasuring of this beautiful present. It is by so much 
the more precious to me, as I had the less reason to 
dare to hope for it, since I did not even think you 
knew I was in the world ; in which being truly so 
small a thing, held in this nook of our mountains, I 
think myself invisible. But still, as the strong lights 
discover the atoms, so have you been able to see me. 

But since it has pleased you, sir, to turn not only 
your thought, but what is still more, your good will, 
towards me, I beseech you very humbly to continue 
this grace in my regard, by the same courtesy and good- 
ness which has made it spring in your soul, without 
any merit on my part. And if I cannot by effects, 
at least I will try by affection, to correspond with this 
favour, ever bearing you an honour, or even, if you 
allow this word, a love, very special. I am further 
drawn to this by this learned piety which makes you 
so happily transform the Pagan into Christian muses, 
taking them from that old profane Parnassus, and 
putting them on the new sacred Calvary. 

And would to God that so many Christian poets 
who have in our age worthily shown, like you, sir, 
the beauty of their minds, had also, like you, shown 
the goodness of their judgment in the choice of the 
subjects of their poems ! The corruption of manners 

1 86 St Francis de Sales. 

would not be so great ; for it is a marvel how words 
marshalled by the laws of verse, have power to pene- 
trate hearts and subdue the memory. May God 
pardon them the abuse they have made of their 
learning. And do you, sir, ever employ and enjoy 
thus holily the beautiful, rich, and excellent mind 
which the Divine Majesty has bestowed on you in 
this temporal life, in order that you may rejoice for 
ever, contemplating and gloriously singing the same 
mysteries in eternal life. 

I am with all my heart your, &c. 

To a Lord of the Court.* 

The Saint rejoices that he preserves piety in the midst of 
the Court. 

Anneey, 12th September, 16 14. 

I have no greater glory in this world, Monsieur 
my son, than to be named father of such a son, 
and no sweeter consolation than to see the pleasure 
you take in it ; but I will not say any more on this 
subject, which indeed is beyond my speech. 

It is enough that God does me this grace, which 
is every day more delicious to me, as I am being told 
on every hand that you live in God, although amid 
this world. 

* Probably the Baron de Lux. 

Letters to Men of the World. 187 

O Jesus, my God ! what happiness to have a son 
who knows how to sing so beautifully the songs of 
Sion in the land of Babylon ! The Israelites excused 
themselves formerly from this, because not only were 
they among the Babylonians, but also captives and 
slaves of the Babylonians ; but he who is not in the 
slavery of the court, he can even in the court adore 
the Lord and serve him holily. 

No indeed, my dearest son, though you may change 
place, occupations and society, you will never, I trust, 
change your heart, nor your heart its love, nor your 
love its object; since you could not choose either a 
worthier love for your heart, or a worthier object 
for your love than him who will make it eternally 
happy. Thus the variety of the faces of court and 
world will make no change in yours. Your eyes will 
ever regard heaven, to which you aspire, and your 
mouth will ever demand the sovereign good which 
you hope to have there. 

But think, I beg you, my dear son, what an incom- 
parable joy it would have been to me to get near you 
on the opportunity of this meeting of the Estates 
(of Burgundy), to be able to speak to you with that 
new confidence which these names of father and of 
son would have given me. Still God not wishing it, 
since he allows me to be tied here, neither you nor I 
ought to wish it. You will then be my Josne there 
and will fight for the cause of God actually ; and as 
for me I will be here like another Moses, and will 
hold up my hands to heaven, imploring for you the 

1 88 St. Francis de Sales. 

Divine mercy, that you may overcome the difficulties 
your good intention will meet. 

Ask you henceforth to love me, I will not, since I 
can say. it to you more briefly and expressively; be 
then my true son, with all your heart, sir, as I am with 
all mine, not only your very humble and obedient 
servant, but your father, inimitably affectionate, &c. 


To a Man of the World. 

W e cannot have the true intelligence of the Holy Scriptures 
outside the Church. 

2nd July, 1619. • 

Sir, — It is very true that the Sacred Scripture contains 
with much clearness the doctrine required for your 
salvation, and I never thought the contrary. 

It is also true that it is a very good method of in- 
terpreting the Sacred Scripture to compare passages 
with one another, and to reduce the whole to the 
analogy of the faith; that also I have ever said. But 
all the same I cease not to believe quite certainly, and 
to say constantly, that in spite of this admirable and 
delightful clearness of the Scripture on things neces- 
sary for salvation, the human spirit does not always 
find the true sense of it ; but can err, and in fact very 
often does err, in the intelligence of passages which 
are the most clear and the most necessary for the 
establishment of the faith. 

Letters to Men of the World. 189 

Witness the Lutheran errors, and the Calvinist 
books, which, under the conduct of the fathers of the 
pretended Reform, remain in irreconcilable contradic- 
tion on the meaning of the words of institution of the 
Blessed Eucharist. While borh sides boast of having 
carefully and faithfully examined the sense of these 
works by comparing other passages of Holy Scripture, 
and adjusting the whole to the analogy of faith, they 
still remain opposed in their way of understanding 
words of such great importance. Scripture, then, is 
plain in its words, but the heart of man is dim-sighted, 
and, like a night-owl, cannot see this brightness. 

The above-mentioned method is very good, but the 
human spirit knows not how to use it. It is the 
Spirit of God, sir, which gives the true sense of it to 
us, and gives it only to his Church, the column and 
support of the truth ; the Church, by whose ministry 
this Divine Spirit keeps and maintains his truth, that 
is, the true sense of his word ; the Church, which 
alone has the infallible assistance of the Spirit of 
Truth to find the truth clearly, surely, and infallibly 
in the Word of God. So that he who seeks the 
truth of this celestial word outside that Church which 
is the guardian of it, never finds it. And he who 
wants to know it otherwise than through the Church's 
ministry, instead of truth, will only embrace vanity, 
and instead of the certain clearness of the sacred word 
will follow the illusions of that false angel, who trans- 
forms himself into an angel of light. 

Thus acted formerly all heretics, who have all 

190 St. Francis de Sales. 

professed to have the better understanding of the 
Scripture, and to wish to reform the Church; vainly 
seeking truth outside the bosom of the spouse. 
Whereas the heavenly Spouse confided it to her as 
to a faithful depositary and guardian, who would 
distribute it to the dear children of the nuptial bed, 
which is, and will be for ever, without stain. 

This, then, is the substance of what I have to say, 
sir, and it is neither by little nor by much contrary 
to the doctrine of the holy Fathers, which M. de 
Mornay gives in the book which you pleased to send 
me yesterday evening. This I send back to-day, with 
thanks, and declaring that I shall continually desire 
to be able, by some happy opportunity, to testify, sir, 
that I am yours, &c. 


To a Gentleman who wished to leave the World. 

Sir, — Go and bless our Lord for the favourable inspira- 
tion he has given you to withdraw yourself from this 
great and wide road which those of your age and pro- 
fession are accustomed to follow, and by which they 
ordinarily arrive at a thousand kinds of vices and 
inconveniences, and very often at eternal damnation. 
Meanwhile, to make this Divine vocation fruitful, to 
realize more clearly the state which you are about to 
choose, and to better satisfy this infinite mercy, which 

Letters to Men of the World. 1 9 1 

invites you to his perfect love, I counsel you to prac- 
tise these exercises for the three months following. 

Firstly, to cut off some satisfactions of the senses, 
which you might take without offending God ; and for 
this purpose always to rise at six, whether you have 
slept well or badly, provided you are not ill (for in that 
case you would have to condescend to the sickness) ; 
and to do something more on Fridays, rise at five. 
This arrangement will give you more leisure to make 
your prayer and reading. 

Also, to accustom yourself to say every day, after 
or before prayer, fifteen Our Fathers, and fifteen Hail 
Marys, with your arms extended in the form of a 

Moreover, to renounce the pleasures of the taste, 
eating those meats at table which may be less agree- 
able to you, provided they are not unwholesome, and 
leaving those to which your taste may have more in- 

Further, I would wish you sometimes in the week 
to sleep clothed. 

For these little light austerities will serve you to a 
double end ; the one, to impetrate more surely the 
light required for your spirit to make its choice (for 
the lowering of the body in those who have entire 
strength and health marvellously raises the spirit) ; 
the other, to try and to feel austerity, in order to see 
if you could embrace it, and what repugnance you 
will have to it. This experiment is necessary to test 
the slight inclination you have to leave the world ; and 

192 Si. Francis de Sales. 

if you are faithful iu the practice of the little which 
I propose to you, you will be able to judge what you 
would be iu the much, which is practised iu religious 

Pray earnestly to our Lord to illuminate you, and 
say often to him the word of St. Paul : Lord, what 
would you have me to do ? # and that of David : Teach 
me to do thy will, for thou art my God.f Above all, if 
you awake during the night, employ well this time in 
speaking to our Lord on your choice ; protest often to 
his majesty that you resign to him, and leave in his 
hands the disposition of all the moments of your life, 
aad that he must please dispose of them at his will. 

Fail not to make your prayer morning and evening, 
when you can ; with a little retreat before supper, to 
lift up your heart unto our Lord. 

Take pastimes which are of the more vigorous kind, 
such as riding, leaping, and the like; and not the soft 
ones, such as cards and dancing. But if you are 
touched with some vainglory about those others, — 
alas ! you must say, what does all this profit one for 
eternity ? 

Go to communion every Sunday, and always with 
prayers to beg the light you need : and on feast-days 
you may well visit, as an exercise, holy places — the 
Capuchins, St. Bernard's, the Carthusians. May God 
grant you his peace, his grace, his light, and his most 
holy consolation. 

If you feel the inspiration towards religion gather 
* Acts ix. 6. f Ps. cxlii. n. 

Letters to Men of the World. 193 

strength, and your heart urged by it, take counsel 
with your confessor; and in case you make a resolu- 
tion, gradually dispose your grandfather towards it, 
that the annoyance and pain of your leaving may 
fall as little as possible on religion, and that you only 
may be burdened with it. Oh ! how good is God to 
his Israel / How good to the right of heart* 


I. Consider, first, that our Lord, being able to 
oblige his creatures to all sorts of services and obe- 
diences towards him, has not, however, willed to do 
so, but is satisfied with obliging us to the keeping of 
his commandments. So that, if he had pleased to 
ordain that we should fast all our life, that we should 
all live the life of hermits Carthusians, Capuchins, 
still it would be nothing to the great duty we owe 
him ; and yet he is content that we simply keep his 

II. Consider, secondly, that though he has not 
obliged us to any greater service than we pay him in 
keeping his commandments, still he has invited and 
counselled us to live a very perfect life, and to observe 
an entire renouncement of the vanities and concu- 
piscences of the world. 

III. Consider, thirdly, that whether we embrace 
the counsels of our Lord, giving ourselves to a stricter 
life, or whether we live in the common life, and in the 

* Ps. lxxii. 1. 


1 94 St Francis de Sales. 

mere observance of the commandments, in each we 
shall have some difficulty. If we leave the world we 
shall have labour to keep our appetites continually 
guarded and subject, to renounce ourselves, give up 
our own will, and live in a very absolute subjection, 
under the laws of obedience, chastity, and poverty. 
If we stay in the common path, we shall have a per- 
petual labour in fighting the world which will sur- 
round us, in resisting the frequent occasions of sin 
which beset us, and in keeping our bark safe amid the 

IV. Consider, fourthly, that in both one life and 
the other, serving our Lord well, we shall have a 
thousand consolations. Out of the world, the mere 
satisfaction of having left all for God is worth more 
than a thousand worlds ; the satisfaction of being con- 
ducted by obedience, of being preserved by laws, and 
of being, as it were, under protection from the chief 
snares of life, are sweet satisfactions. I leave out the 
peace and tranquillity found there, the pleasure of 
being occupied night and day in prayers and Divine 
things, and a thousand such deliciousnesses (delices). 
And as to the common life, the liberty, the variety of 
the service he can pay our Lord, the ease of having 
only to observe the commandments of God, and a 
hundred other such considerations, make it very 

On all this you will say to God : — Ah ! Lord, in 
what state shall I serve you ? Ah ! my soul, wherever 
thy God calls thee, thou shalt be faithful to him. 

Letters to Men of the World. 195 

But on which side do you think you will do best ? 
Examine your spirit, to know if it does not feel more 
inclination to one side than the other; and having 
ascertained this, still do not as yet resolve, but wait 
till you are told. 


I. Imagine you see St. Joseph and our Lady, just 
before our Lord's birth, arrive in Bethlehem, and 
seek a lodging everywhere, without finding any one 
willing to receive them. O God ! what contempt 
and rejection of heavenly and holy persons does the 
world show, and how willingly do these two holy 
souls embrace this abjection ! They do not set 
themselves up, they make no remonstrances about 
their quality, but quite simply receive these refusals 
and this harshness with an unequalled sweetness. Oh! 
miserable that I am, the least forgetfulness of the 
punctilious honour which is my due, or which I think 
my due, troubles me, disquiets me, excites my arro- 
gance and pride, everywhere I force myself into the 
front rank. Alas ! when shall I have that virtue, — 
the contempt of myself and of vanities ! 

II. Consider how St. Joseph and our Lady enter 
the hollow and shed which sometimes served for a stable 
to strangers, to effect the glorious bringing-forth of 
the Saviour. Where are the proud edifices which 
the ambition of the world raises for the habitation of 
vile and detestable sinners ? Ah ! what contempt of 
the grandeurs of the world has this Divine Saviour 

o 2 

ig6 St. Francis de Sales. 

taught us ! How happy are those who know how to 
love holy simplicity and moderation ! A miserable 
wretch like me must have palaces ; and is not satisfied 
then : and behold my Saviour under a broken roof, 
and on straw, poorly and pitifully lodged ! 

III. Consider this Divine baby, born naked, shiver- 
ing in a manger, in swaddling-clothes. Alas ! how 
poor all is, how vile and abject, in this birth ! How 
soft are we, and slaves to our comforts, and in 
love with sensualities ! We must strongly excite in 
ourselves the contempt of the world, and the desire of 
suffering for our Lord abjections, discomforts, poverty 
and need. If you are sometimes a little difficult to 
treat in your temporal infirmities, little by little this 
will pass. The human spirit makes so many turns 
and doubles, without our thinking of it, that we must 
make some wry faces : he who makes the least is the 

To a Doctor. 

That we must resign ourselves to GooVs will in the death 
of our parents. 

My Dear Son, — The true science of God teaches us, 
above all things, that his will ought to bring our 
heart to his obedience, and make us find good, as 
indeed it is most good, all that it ordains for the 
children of his good pleasure. 

Letters to Men of the World. 197 

You will be, I am sure, of these, and on this 
principle you will acquiesce, gently and humbly, 
though not without a feeling of sorrow, in the 
mercy he has granted to your good mother, whom 
he has withdrawn into the bosom of his blessed 
eternity. Thus do the preceding circumstances give 
us every reason to believe, with as much certainty as 
we may rightly have in such a matter. Well then, 
it is done, this is what I had to say to you. Weep 
now, but moderate your tears and bless God ; for this 
mother will be good to you, as you must hope, much 
more where she is, then she could have been where 
she was. Behold her then there with the eyes of 
your faith, and so calm your soul. 

Your good father is well in health and better in 
spirits. For about a month now he has worn his 
mourning, of mixed sorrow and consolation, accord- 
ing to the two parts of his soul. Study ever harder 
and harder in a spirit of diligence and humility; and 
I am all yours. 


To Monsieur de Rochefort. 

Consolations on the death of his son. 

20th January, 1614. 

Sir, — Knowing what you have felt about your son by 
what I have felt myself, I realize that your pain has 

198 Si. Francis de Sales. 

been extreme; for truly, remembering the content- 
ment which yon took in speaking to me the other day 
about this child, I felt a great compassion, when I 
reflected how painful would be your sorrow at the news 
of his decease ; but still I did not dare to express to 
you my sympathy, not knowing whether the loss was 
certain, nor whether it had been announced to you. 
And now, sir, I come too late to contribute towards 
the consolation of your heart, which will already, I 
am sure, have received much relief, so as no longer 
to remain in the grief which so sensible an affliction 
had caused it. 

For you will have well known how to consider that 
this dear child was more God's than yours, who had it 
only as a loan from that sovereign liberality. And if 
his Providence judged that it was time to withdraw it 
to himself, we must believe that it was for the child's 
good, in which a loving father like you must quietly 
acquiesce. Our age is not so delightsome that those 
who quit it should be much lamented. This son has, 
I think, gained much by leaving it almost before pro- 
perly entering it. 

The word " dead" is terrifying, as it is spoken to us : 
for some one comes to you and says : your dear father is 
dead, and your son is dead : — but this is not a fit way 
of speaking among us Christians, for we should say : 
your son or your father has gone into his and your 
country; and because it was necessary he has passed 
through death, not stopping in it. I know not, in- 
deed, how we can in right judgment esteem this world 

Letters to Men of the World. 199 

to be our country, in which we are for so short a 
time, in comparison with heaven, in which we are to 
be eternally. We are on our way, and are more 
assured of the presence of our dear friends there above 
than of these here below ; for those are expecting us, 
and we go towards them ; these let us go, and will 
delay as long after us as they can, and if they go with 
us, it is against their will. 

But if some remains of sorrow still oppress your 
mind for the departure of this sweet soul, throw your 
heart before our Lord crucified, and ask his help ; he 
will give it you, and will inspire into you the thought 
and the firm resolution to prepare yourself well to make 
in your turn, at the hour he has fixed, this terrifying 
passage, in such way that you may happily arrive at 
the place in which we hope already is lodged our poor 
— or rather, our happy departed. Sir, if I am heard 
in my continual desire, you will be filled with all holy 
prosperity; for it is with all my heart that I cherish 
and honour yours, and in this occasion, and in every 
other, I name myself and make myself, sir, your, &c. 

To a Man op the World. 

Consolations on the death of his wife. 

Annccy, Jth August. 162 1. 
Sir, — I have just learnt from Doctor Grandis the pain- 
ful yet happy decease of Madam, your dear spouse. 

200 St. Francis de Sales. 

Truly, my heart has been as much touched by it as any 
loss I have experienced for a long time ; for the good- 
ness, the piety, and the virtue which I had seen in 
that beautiful soul had so far obliged me to honour 
her, that I had made a solemn profession to do so 
henceforward. How happy she is, this dear lady, to 
have preserved, amid so many pains and labours, the 
fidelity she owed to her God ! And what a consola- 
tion has it been to me, to have known some of the 
words of charity which her spirit ejaculated with her 
last sighs into the bosom of the Divine mercy ! 

But, sir, ought I not to have an immortal obliga- 
tion for the favour she did me, when in this extremity 
of her mortal life she so often testified that she had 
memory of me, as of him whom she knew to be alto- 
gether devoted to her in our Lord ? Never will this 
remembrance depart from my soul ; and not being able 
to offer her the very faithful service I had sworn to her 
virtue and devotion, I beg you, sir, to accept it, and 
receive it with that which the honour of your goodness 
had already demanded from my affections. Meantime, 
on this occasion employ the greatness of your heart in 
moderating the greatness of the pain which the great- 
ness of your loss has given you. Let us acquiesce, sir, in 
the decrees of the sovereign Providence, decrees which 
are always just, always holy, always adorable, although 
obscure and impenetrable to our understanding. 

This beautiful and devout soul has died in a state 
of conscience, in which, if God gives us the grace to 
die, we shall be too blessed to die, at whatever time it 

Letters to Men of the World, 201 

may be. Let us acknowledge this grace which God 
has shown her, and quietly have patience for the 
little time we have to live here below without her, 
since we have hope of living with her eternally in 
heaven, in an indissoluble and invariable society. 
Sir, I will pour out blessings ail my life on Madam, 
your dear departed, and I will be invariably yours, &c. 

To a Friend. 

Be consoles him on the death of his brother. 
My Dear Brother (for I am in the place of the 
one whom our good God has withdrawn to himself), — 
I am told that you weep continually over this truly 
very painful separation. This must not be ; either 
you weep for him or for yourself; if for him, why 
weep that our brother is in Paradise, where tears have 
no more place ? but if for yourself, is there not 
therein too much self-love ? 

I speak with you quite frankly ; for one would think 
that you love yourself more than his happiness, which 
is incomparable. And do you wish that, for your 
sake, your brother should not be with him who gives 
all of us life, movement, and being, so long as we 
acquiesce in his holy pleasure and Divine will? 

But come and see us, and often, and we will turn 
tears into joy* recalling together that joy which our 
* John xvi. 20. 

202 St. Francis de Sales. 

good brother is enjoying, and which shall never more 
be taken from him ; and in general, think often on it 
and on him. Thus you will live joyful, as, with all 
my heart, I wish you to be. I heartily recommend 
myself to your prayers, and assure you that I am 
yours, &c. 

To a Man of the World. 

The Saint tells him what eternal life is, and that we must practice 
the love of God to aspire to it. 

Annecy, 24th August, 16 13. 

Sir, — Amid the lassitudes and other inconveniences 
which illness has left behind, I have prepared the 
document which you pleased to desire of me, and I 
have added to it an abridgment, that it might be 
more easy to carry and look at in your confessions. 
The large one is, as it were, in reserve for you, to 
have recourse to in your difficulties, and to find in it 
the illustration of what might be obscure in the 
abridgment. The whole is in good faith, without art 
or colour ; for these matters want none, simplicity 
being their beauty, as in God who is the author of 
them. You will find, sir, marks of my illness ; for if 
I had written this little work in full health, I would, 
without doubt, have taken stricter care to make it less 
unworthy of your acceptance. Neither have I been 

Letters to Men of the World. 20 


able to write it myself; but those who have written 
it have 110 notion of the use for which I meant it. 

Blessed be God eternally for the goodness which he 
shows towards your soiil, sir, inspiring it so power- 
fully to the resolution of consecrating the rest of your 
mortal life to the service of the eternal life. Eternal 
life, which is no other thing than the Divinity itself, 
in so far as it will vivify our souls with his glory and 
felicity; a life which is the only true life, and for 
which alone we ought to live in this world, since all 
life which has not its term in a living eternity, is 
rather death than life. 

But, sir, if God has so lovingly inspired you to 
aspire to the eternity of glory he has just so far forth 
obliged you to receive humbly, and carry out carefully 
his inspiration, under pain of being deprived of this 
grace and glory. And the mere name of this loss 
fills with terror a heart which has the least degree of 

"Wherefore, in the simplicity of my soul, I conjure 
you, sir, to be very attentive to preserve well what you 
have, that you may not lose your crown. You are 
undoubtedly called to a masculine, courageous, valiant, 
invariable devotion — to serve as a mirror to many in 
favour of the truth of celestial love, in reparation of 
past faults, if ever you have been a mirror of the 
vanity of terrestial love. 

See, I beg you, sir, with what liberty I let my 
spirit act towards yours, and how this name of father, 
with which it has pleased you to honour me, carries 

204 Si. Francis de Sales. 

me away. For it has entered into my heart, and my 
affections have set themselves to the laws of love 
which the name father signifies, the greatest, the 
liveliest, and the strongest of all loves. In harmony 
with which I must beg you again, sir, to practise 
diligently the exercises which I mark in chapters 
x, xi, xii, xiii, of the Second part of the Introduction, 
for the morning and the evening, for the spiritual 
retreat, and for aspirations to God. The goodness of 
your soul, and the noble courage which God has given 
you, will serve you greatly for this practice, which will 
be so much the more easy to you as it is only neces- 
sary to employ in it moments which are stolen or 
justly detached, on occasion, here and there, from 
other affairs. The tenth part of an hour, or even less,, 
will suffice for the morning, and the same for the 

Oh ! if you could gently deceive your dear soul, sir, 
and instead of undertaking to communicate every 
month during a year, a year of twelve months, would, 
when you have finished the twelfth, add the thirteenth, 
then the fourteenth, then the fifteenth, and go on thus 
continuing from month to month ! What a happiness 
to your heart, which, in proportion as it would receive 
its Saviour oftener, would also convert itself more 
perfectly into him ! And this, sir, could well be done 
without noise, without injury to your affairs, and 
without giving the world anything to say. Experience 
has made me realize in my twenty-five years of 
serving souls, the all-powerful virtue of this Divine 

Letters to Men of the World. 205 

Sacrament, to strengthen hearts in good, exempt them 
from evil, console them, and in a word deify them in 
this world, if it be frequented with faith, purity, and 

But enough is said, sir; heavenly influences, your 
good angel and your generosity, will supply what my 
insufficiency does not permit me to propose to you. 
Also, I pray our Lord to make you more and more 
abound in his favours, and I am, without end, &c. 

To a Man of the World. 

On the fear of death and of the judgments of God. 

Sir, — I am truly in a great trouble to know how 
much you have suffered in this severe and painful 
illness, from which, as I hope, you will recover. I 
should have had very much more pain if on every 
hand I had not been assured that, thanks to God, you 
have been in no sort of danger, and that you begin 
to take up your strength, and are in the way of health 

But what gives me more apprehension now is that 
besides the evil you suffer through corporal infirmities, 
you are overcharged with a violent melancholy : for I 
know how much this will retard the return of your 
health, and indeed work in the opposite direction. 

It is here, sir, that my heart is greatly oppressed ; 
and according to the greatness of the lively and ex- 

206 St. Francis de Sales. 

treme affection with which it cherishes you (beyond 
what can be said), it has an extraordinary compassion 
for yours. If you please, sir, tell me, I beg you, 
what reason have you for nourishing this sad humour 
which is so prejudicial to you? I fancy your mind 
is still embarrassed with some fear of sudden death, 
and of the judgments of God. Alas ! what a dread- 
ful torment is this ! My soul, which endured it for 
six weeks, is very capable of compassionating those 
who are afflicted with it. 

But, sir, I must speak a little with you, heart to 
heart, and tell you, that whoever has a true desire to 
serve our Lord and to avoid sin, ought not at all to 
disquiet himself with the thought of death or of the 
Divine judgments. Although both are to be feared, 
still the fear should not be of that terrible and terrifv- 
ing nature which beats down and depresses the vigour 
and strength of the soul, but should be a fear so 
mixed with confidence in the goodness of God as by 
this means to become gentle. 

And it behoves not, sir, that we doubt whether 
we may trust in God when we find it difficult to keep 
from sin, or when we imagine or fear that in occasions 
and temptations we may not be able to resist. Oh ! 
no, sir ; for distrust of our strength is not a failure of 
resolution, but a true acknowledgment of our misery. 
It is a better state of mind to distrust our own power 
of resistance to temptation than to look on ourselves 
as sufficiently strong and safe. Only we must take 
care that what we do not expect from our strength we 

Letters to Men of the World. 207 

do expect from the grace of God. Hence many, with 
great consolation, have promised themselves to do 
wonders for God, who, when it came to the point, 
have failed; and many who have had great distrust 
of their strength, and great fear of failing on trial, 
have suddenly done wonders : because this great sense 
of their weakness has urged them to seek the aid and 
succour of God, to watch, pray, and humble themselves, 
so as not to enter into temptation. 

I say that if we feel we should have neither strength 
nor even any courage to resist temptation, if it pre- 
sented itself at once to us, provided that we still 
would desire to resist it, and hope that if it came 
God would help us, and if we ask his help, we must 
by no means distress ourselves, since it is not neces- 
sary always to feel strength and courage. It suffices 
that we hope and desire to have it in time and place ; 
and it is not necessary to feel in ourselves any 
sign or any mark that we shall have this courage; it 
is enough that we hope God will help us. 

Samson, who was called the strong, never felt the 
supernatural strength with which God helped him 
except at the actual times ; and hence it is said that 
when he met the lions or the enemies, the spirit of 
God came upon him to kill them. So God, who does 
nothing in vain, does not give us the strength or the 
courage when there is no need to use them, but at 
the necessary time nothing is wanting; hence we 
must always hope that in all occurrences he will help 
us, if we call upon him. And we should always use 

20 8 Si. Francis de Sales. 

the words of David : Why are you sorrowful, my soul, 
and why do you disquiet me 2 Hope in the Lord ;• 
and his prayer : When my strength fails, Lord, for- 
sake me not.f Well, then, since you desire to be 
entirely God's, why do you fear from your weakness, 
in which you are to put no sort of trust ? Do you 
not hope in God ? Ah ! He who trusteth in him, shall 
he ever be confounded ?% No, sir, he shall never be. 
I beseech you, sir, to quell all the objections which 
might arise in your mind. You need make no other 
answer to them save that you desire to be faithful on 
all occasions, and that you hope God will make you 
so. There is no need to test your spirit, to see 
whether it would or no ; these tests are illusive ; many 
are valiant while they do not see the enemy, who are 
not valiant in his presence ; and, on the contrary, many 
fear before battle, to whom the actual danger gives 
courage. We must not fear fear. 

So much on this point, sir. Meanwhile, God 
knows what I would do and suffer to see you entirely 
delivered. I am your, &c. 

To the President Fre'miot. 

The Saint engages him to prepare for death. 

Sales, yth October, 1604. 
Sir, — Charity is equally easy in giving and in receiv- 
ing good impressions of our neighbour; but if to its 
* Ps. xli. J Ps. lxx. J Ecclus. ii. 11. 

Letters to Men of the World. 209 

general inclination we add that of some particular 
friendship, it becomes excessive in this facility. Mon- 
seigneur de Bourges, and Madame de Chantal, your 
worthy and dear children, have doubtless been too 
favourable in the desire with which they have inspired 
you to wish me well : for I see clearly, sir, by the 
letter you have written me, that they have employed 
colours in it, with which my wretched soul was never 
painted. And you, sir, have not been less ready, 
nor, I believe, less pleased, to give them an ample 
and liberal belief. Charity, says the Apostle, believeth 
all things, and rejoiceth with the truth * 

In this only were they unable to exceed in saying, 
or you in believing, that I have devoted to them all 
my affections. Thus these affections are yours, since 
these children are yours, with all they have. 

Allow me, sir, to let my pen follow my thoughts 
in answering your letter. I have truly recognized in 
M. de Bourges such an ingenuous goodness of mind 
and of heart, that I have let myself confer with him 
about the duties of our common vocation with so 
much liberty, that, returning to myself, I did not 
know which had used more simplicity, he in listening 
to me, or I in speaking to him. And, sir, friendships 
founded on Jesus Christ do not cease to be respectful 
for being extremely simple and in good faith. We 
are well cut out for the profit of one another ; our 
desires to serve God and his Church (for I confess 
that I have some, and he cannot conceal that he is 
* 1 Cor. xiii. 

210 St. Francis de Sales. 

full of them) have been, it seems to me,, sharpened 
and animated by contact. 

But, sir, you wish me to continue the conversation 
on this subject by letters. I assure you that if I would 
I could not hinder myself from doing so ; and, in fact, 
I am sending him a letter of four sheets, and all of 
that material. No, sir, I pay no attention to what I 
am less than he, nor to what he is more than I, and 
in so many ways : amor cequat amantes (love equalizes 
lovers). I speak to him faithfully, and with all the 
confidence my soul can have in his soul, which I 
consider most frank, true, and vigorous in friendship. 

And as for Madame de Chantal, I would rather say 
nothing of the desire I have of her eternal good than 
too little. 

But has not the President of Finance, your good 
brother, told you that he loves me also very much? 
I will tell you, at least, that I consider myself quite 
certain of it. 

There are no persons in your house, down to the 
little Celse-Benigne and your Aimee, # who do not 
know me, and love me. 

See, sir, if I am not yours, and by how many links ; 
I abuse your goodness in displaying to you my affec- 
tions so extravagantly. But, sir, whoever provokes 
me to contention about love must be very firm, for I 
spare him not. 

So must I then obey you again in your command to 
write down for you the principal points of your duty. 
* Children of Madame de Chantal. 

Letters to Men of the World. 2 1 1 

I prefer to obey at peril of discretion, rather than to 
be discreet at peril of obedience. It is in truth an 
obedience a little bitter to me, but you will rightly 
judge that it is the more worth. You exceed indeed 
in humility when you make me this request ; why may 
I not exceed in simplicity when I obey you ? 

Sir, I know that you have passed a long and very 
honourable life, and have always been very constant in 
the Holy Catholic Church ; but, after all, it has been 
in the world, and in the management of affairs. It is 
a strange thing, but experience and authors witness 
it : a horse, however fine and strong he may be, 
travelling on the paths and trail of the wolf, becomes 
giddy and stumbles. It is not possible that living in 
the world, though we only touch it with our feet, 
we be not soiled with its dust. Thus says St. Leo. 

Our ancient fathers, Abraham and the others, 
usually offered to their guests the washing of their 
feet ; I think, sir, that the first thing to be done is to 
wash the affections of our souls in order to receive 
the hospitality of our good God in his paradise. 

It seems to me that it is always a great matter of 
reproach to mortals to die without having thought of 
this ; but doubly so to those whom God has favoured 
with the blessing of old age. 

Those who get ready before the alarm is given, 
always put on their armour better than those who, on 
the fright, run hither and thither for the cuirass, the 
cuisses, and the helmet. 

We must leisurely say good-by to the world, and 

p % 

212 £?. Francis de Sales. 

little by little withdraw our affections from creatures. 
Trees which the wind tears up are not proper to 
transplant, because they leave their roots in the earth ; 
but he who would carry trees into another soil must 
skilfully disengage little by little all the roots one 
after the other. And since from this miserable land 
we are to be transplanted into that of the living, we 
must withdraw and disengage our affections one after 
the other from this world. I do not say that we 
must roughly break all the ties we have formed (it 
would, perhaps, require immense efforts for that), but 
we must unsew and untie them. 

Those who depart suddenly are excusable for not 
saying good-by to their friends, and for starting with 
a poor set out ; but not so those who have known the 
probable time of their journey ; they must keep 
ready, not, indeed, as if to start before the time, but 
to await it with more tranquillity. 

For this end, I think, sir, that you will have an 
incredible consolation if you choose from each day an 
hour, to think before God and your good angel, on 
what is necessary to make a happy departure. What 
order would your affairs be in if you knew it would be 
soon ? I know these thoughts will not be new to you ; 
but the way of making them must be new in the pre- 
sence of God, with a tranquil attention, and rather to 
move the affections, than to enlighten the intellect. 

St. Jerome has more than once applied to the 
wisdom of the old the history of Abisag, the Sunamitess. 
Wisdom and the consideration of philosophy often 

Letters to Men of the World. 213 

'engage young people ; it is more to recreate their 
spirit than to excite good movements in their 
affections ; but they should not be with the old except 
to give them the true warmth of devotion. 

I have seen and enjoyed your fine library ; I 
present you, for your spiritual lesson on this matter, 
St. Ambrose, Be bono mortis (of the advantage of 
death), St. Bernard, De interiore domo (of the interior 
house), and several scattered homilies of St. Chry- 

Your St. Bernard says that the soul should first go 
and kiss the feet of the crucifix, to rectify its 
affections, and to resolve, with firm resolution, to with- 
draw itself little by little from the world and its 
vanities ; then kiss the hands, by that newness of 
actions which follows the change of affections ; and 
finally kiss the mouth, uniting self by an ardent love 
to the supreme goodness. This is the true progress of 
a becoming departure. 

It is said that Alexander the Great, sailing on the 
wide ocean, discovered, alone and first, Arabia Felix, 
by the scent of its aromatic trees. He was at first 
the only one to perceive it, because he alone was 
seeking it. Those who are seeking after the eternal 
eountry, though sailing on the high sea of the affairs 
of this world, have a certain presentiment of heaven, 
which animates and encourages them marvellously. 
But they must keep themselves before the wind, and 
their prow turned in the proper direction. 

We owe ourselves to God, 10 our country, to 

214 St. Francis de Sales. 

parents, to friends. To God, firstly ; then to our 
country, but first to our heavenly country ; secondly, 
to our earthly. Then we owe ourselves to our near 
ones, but no one is so near as our self, says our 
Christian Seneca;* in fine, to friends; but are you 
not the first of your friends ? He remarks that 
St. Paul says to Timothy : Attend to yourself and to your 
flock ;f first to yourself, then to your flock. 

This is quite enough, sir, if not too much, for this 
year, which flies and melts away before us, and in 
these two next months will make us see the vanity of 
its existence like all the preceding, which exist no 
more. You commanded me to write you every year 
something of this sort. I am now straight for this 
year, in which I beseech you to withdraw your 
affections from the world as much as possible, and 
in proportion as you withdraw them to transport 
them to heaven. 

And pardon me, I beseech you, by your own 
humility, if my simplicity has been so extravagant in 
its obedience as to write to you, at such length and 
freedom on a simple demand, and with the full sense 
that I have of your abundant wisdom, which should 
keep me either in silence or in an exact moderation. 
Here are waters, sir; if they come from the jawbone 
of an ass, Samson will not refuse to drink of them. I 
pray God to heap up your years with his benedictions^ 
and I am, with an entirely filial affection, sir, &c. 

* Boethius. f Acts xx. 28. 



To a Lady. 

Consolations and advice to a person who had a lawsuit. 

igth September, 1610. 
My dearest Daughter, — I know the multitude of your 
troubles, and have recommended them to our Lord. 
May it please him to bless them with the sacred 
benediction with which he has blessed his dearest 
servants, that they may be used for the hallowing of 
his holy name in your soul. 

And I must confess that though, in my opinion, 
afflictions which regard our own persons, and the 
afflictions which come from sins, are more trying, 
still the afflictions of lawsuits cause me more pity, 
because more dangerous for the soul. How many 
people have we seen at peace in the thorns of sicknesses 
and loss of friends, who lose interior peace in the 
worry of exterior lawsuits ! And this is the reason, 
or rather the cause without reason : we have difficulty 

2 1 6 St. Francis de Sales. 

in believing that the evil of suits is employed by God 
for our trial, because we see that they are men who 
prosecute. We do not dare to resist that all-good, 
all-wise Providence, but we resist the men who afflict 
us, and we quarrel with them, not without danger of 
losing charity, the only loss we ought to fear in this 

But then, my dearest daughter, when shall we show 
our fidelity to our Lord if not in these occasions? 
When shall we restrain our heart, our judgment, and 
our tongue, unless in these places, which are so rough 
and so near to precipices ? For God's sake, my 
dearest daughter, let not a time so favourable to your 
spiritual progress pass without collecting plenty of 
fruits of patience, humility, sweetness, and love of 
abjection. Remember that our Lord said not a 
single word against those who condemned him. He 
did not judge them ; he was wrongly judged and 
condemned, and he remained in peace, and died in 
peace, and revenged himself only in praying for them. 
And we, my dearest daughter, we judge our judges 
and our opponents ; we arm ourselves with complaints 
and reproaches. 

Believe me, my dearest daughter, we must be strong 
and constant in the love of our neighbours, and I say 
this with all my heart, without regard either to your 
opponents, or to what they are to me ; and I know 
that nothing affects me in this matter save jealousy 
for your perfection. But I must stop, and I did 
not mean to say even so much. You will have God 

Various Letters. 2 1 7 

always, when you please. And is not this to be rich 
enough ? I beg that his will may be your repose, and 
his cross your glory. I am without end, your, &c. 

To a Lady. 

Advice during an illness. — We must obey the doctor. 

29th September, 1608. 
I understand, my dear daughter, that you have an 
illness, more troublesome than dangerous, and I know 
that such illnesses are prone to spoil the obedience we 
owe to the doctors ; wherefore I tell you not to deprive 
yourself of the rest, or the medicines, or the food, or 
the recreations appointed you ; you can exercise a 
kind of obedience and resignation in this which will 
make you extremely agreeable to our Lord. In line, 
behold a quantity of crosses and mortifications which 
you have neither chosen nor wished. God has given 
you them with his holy hand ; receive them, kiss them, 
love them. My God ! they are all perfumed with the 
dignity of the place whence they come. 

Good-by, my dear daughter, I cherish you earnestly : 
if I had leisure I would say more, for I am infinitely 
pleased that you are faithful in these little and trouble- 
some occurrences, and that in little as in great things 
you say always : Vive Jteus I Your, &c. 

2 1 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

To a Lady. 

Sickness may purify the soul as well as the body. 

26th April, 16 1 5. 
Madam, — I have heard of your sickness, and I do not 
forget to pay the duty I owe so dear a daughter. If 
God hears my prayers, you will rise with a great in- 
crease of health (sante), and above all of holiness 
(saintete) ; for often these accidents leave us with this 
double advantage — the fever has dispersed the evil 
humours of the body, and purified the humours of 
the heart, as being trials from the hand of Almighty 

I do not mean to call you a saint when I speak of 
an increase of sanctity in you, certainly not, my dear- 
est daughter ; it is not for my heart to flatter yours : 
but though you are not a saint your good desires are 
saintly, I well know, and I wish them to become so 
great as to be changed at last into perfect devotion,, 
sweetness, patience, and humility. 

Fill all your heart with courage, and your courage* 
with confidence in God ; for he who has given you the 
first attractions of his sacred love will never abandon 
you. These I beg him with all my heart to give ; and 
am, without end, your most humble servant, and your 
husband's, whom, my dearest daughter, I have just 

Various Letters. 2 1 9 


To a Young Lady who was Sick. 


8th February, 1 6 2 1 . 

These are great fires, my dearest child; fever, like a 
fire, burns your body j fire, like a fever, burns your 
house ; but I hope that the fire of heavenly love so 
occupies your heart, that in all occasions you say, The 
Lord has given me my health and my house : the Lord 
has taken them away : as it has pleased the Lord, be it 
done, his holy name be blessed* 

Yes, you say, but it impoverishes and inconveniences 
us greatly. Quite true, my dearest daughter; but, 
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. f 
You should have before your eyes the suffering and the 
patience of Job, and regard that great prince on the 
dunghill. He had patience, and God at last doubled 
his temporal and increased a hundredfold his eternal 

You are a child of Jesus Christ crucified; what 
wonder then if you share his cross ? / was silent, 
said David, and have not opened my mouth, because it is 
you, O Lord, who did it.% Oh ! by how many diffi- 
cult ways do we go to holy eternity ! Throw all your 
confidence and solicitude on God : he will have care of 
you,§ and will hold out a favouring hand. Thus I pray 

* Job L 21. f Matt. v. 3. \ Ps. xxxviii. 10. 

§ Ps. liv. 23. 

2 2o St. Francis de Sales. 

him, with all my heart ; and in proportion as he sends 
you tribulations, may he, in his holy care, strengthen 
you to bear them. 

To a Lady. 

How to behave in great sufferings. 

My dear Daughter, — Let us leave meditation for 
a short time — it is only to spring better that we step 
back; and let us practise well that holy resignation 
and that pure love of our Lord, which is never entirely 
practised save in troubles ; for to love God in sugar — 
little children would do as much ; but to love him in 
wormwood, that is the test of our amorous fidelity. 
To say : Vive Jesus, on the mountain of Thabor, 
St. Peter, while still carnal, has quite courage enough ; 
but to say : Vive Jesus, on Mount Calvary — this be- 
longs only to the Mother, and to the beloved disciple 
who was left to her as her son. 

So then, my daughter, behold I commend you to 
God, to obtain for you that sacred patience ; and I 
cannot ask him anything for you except that he would 
fashion your heart just at his will, in order to lodge 
and reign therein eternally. May he do it with the 
hammer, or with the chisel, or with the brush; it is 
for him to act at his pleasure. Is it not so, my dear 
daughter : must he not do this ? 

I know that your pains have been increased lately, 

Various Letters. 221 

and in the same measure has my sorrow for them in- 
creased; although I praise and bless our Lord with 
you for his good pleasure exercised in you, making 
you share his holy cross, and crowning you with his 
crown of thorns. 

But, you will say, you can hardly keep your thoughts 
on the pains our Lord has suffered for you, while your 
own pangs oppress you. Well, my dear child, you are 
not obliged to do so, provided that you quite simply 
offer up your heart as frequently as you can to this 
Saviour, and make the following acts : i°. Accept the 
pain from his hand, as if you saw him himself putting 
and pressing it on your head. 2°. Offer yourself to 
suffer more. 3 . Beg him by the merit of his tor- 
ments, to accept these little distresses in union with 
the pains he suffered on the cross. 4 . Protest that 
you wish not only to suffer, but to love and cherish 
them as sent from so good and so sweet a hand. 
5 . Invoke the martyrs and the many servants of God, 
who enjoy heaven for having been afflicted in this 

There is no danger in desiring some remedy, indeed 
you must carefully procure it ; for God, who has given 
you the evil, is also author of its cure. You must then 
apply it, yet with such resignation that, if his Divine 
majesty wishes the evil to conquer, you will acquiesce ; 
and if he wishes the remedy to succeed, you will bless 
him for it. 

There is no harm, while performing your spiritual 
exercises, in being seated. None at all, my daughter ; 

222 St. Francis de Sales. 

nor would there be for difficulties much less than those 
you suffer. 

How happy are you, my daughter, if you continue 
to keep yourself under the hand of God, humbly, 
sweetly, and pliantly ! Ah ! I hope this headache 
will much profit your heart ; your heart, which mine 
cherishes with quite a special love. Now, my daugh- 
ter, it is that you may, more than ever, and by very 
good signs, prove to our sweet Saviour that it is with 
all your affection you have said and will say : Vive 
Jesus ! Vive Jesus ! my child, and may he reign amid 
your pains, since we can neither reign nor live save by 
the pain of his death. I am in him entirely yours. 


To a Lady. 

In these letters and the following, the Saint exhorts this lady, 
who was aged and infirm, and whom he calls his mother, to 
lift up her desires towards heaven, to love crosses, to have 
patience and gentleness with the persons who waited on her. 

My dearest Mother, — What shall I say to you ? 
Only a word, for want of time. 

Continually practise your heart in interior and 
exterior sweetness, and keep it in quiet, amid the 
multiplicity of your affairs. 

Keep yourself very earnestly from eager anxiety 
(empressement), the pest of true devotion, and continue 

Various Letters. 223 

to keep your soul above, only regarding this world to 
despise it, and time to aspire to eternity. 

Often submit your will to the will of God, ready to 
adore it as much when it sends you tribulations as in 
the time of consolations. 

God be ever in the midst of our hearts, my dearest 
mother ! I am in him, without reserve, and with an 
affection quite filial, your, &c. 

To the Same. 

Same Subject. 

Though this messenger goes expressly, my dear mother, 
he starts at a time when I am very much engaged. 
That good lady has told me from you what you con- 
fided to her, and I praise God that he has given you 
new affections with this new health ; but you must 
take good notice, my dearest daughter, my mother, 
that body and spirit often go in contrary movements ; 
as one grows weak, the other grows strong, and when 
one grows strong, the other grows weak. But as it is 
the spirit which must reign, when we see that it has 
taken up its powers, we must so aid and establish it, 
that it may remain always the stronger. Without 
doubt, my dear mother, since sicknesses are crucibles, 
our heart should come out from them more pure, and 
amidst our infirmities we should become more strong. 

224 St. Francis de Sales. 

Now, as to yourself, I fancy that • in the future 
your age and the delicate state of your constitution 
will often make you languid and feeble, wherefore I 
advise you to exercise yourself much in the will of 
God, and in the abnegation of exterior satisfactions, 
and in sweetness amid bitterness. This will be the 
most excellent sacrifice you can make. Hold good, 
and practise, not only a solid love, but a tender, gentle, 
and sweet love towards those about you : on which I 
say, by the experience I have, that infirmity, though 
it does not take away charity, yet takes away sweet- 
ness towards our neighbour, if we are not greatly on 
our guard. 

My dearest mother, T wish you the height of per- 
fection, in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 

I remain for ever your, &c. 

To the Same. 

Same Subject. 

Alas ! my God ! dearest mother, how surprised was I 
to learn from your letter, as it were all on a sudden, 
the length and the danger of your malady ! For 
believe, I pray, that my heart cherishes you filially. 
God be praised that you seem to have almost got 

Truly, I see well that for the future you must grow 

Various Letters. 225 

familiar with maladies and infirmities in this decline 
of age in which you are. Lord Jesus ! what true 
happiness to a soul dedicated to God, to be well exer- 
cised by tribulation before departing this life ! My 
dearest mother, how can one know sincere and strong 
love save amid thorns, crosses, languors, and above 
all, when the languors are accompanied with longueurs 
(i.e., are long). 

In such way our dear Saviour has shown his un- 
measured love by the measure of his labours and pains. 
My dearest mother, dearly make love to the Spouse 
of your heart on the bed of pain ; for it is on this 
bed that he has made love to your heart, even before 
it came into the world, seeing it as yet only in his 
Divine intention. 

Ah ! this Saviour has counted all your pains, all 
your sufferings, and has bought, at the price of his 
blood, all the patience and all the love necessary to 
apply holily all your labours to his glory and your 
salvation. Be content quietly to will to be all that 
God wants you to be. Never will I fail to beseech 
the Divine Majesty for the perfection of your heart, 
which mine loves, cherishes, and tenderly honours. 

Adieu, my dearest mother, and my dearest child, 
again; let us be God's eternally, ourselves and our 
affections and our little pains and our great ones, and 
all that the Divine goodness wills to be ours ; and I 
am in him, my dearest mother, absolutely your true 
son, &c. 

226 St. Francis de Sales. 

To a Lady. 

It is permitted to mourn the dead with moderation and resignation. 
Long sicknesses are advantageous. 

So, then, ray dearest daughter, I am just told that 
your dear sister is gone, leaving us here below with 
the affections of grief, which generally attack those 
left behind in such separations. O God ! I take care, 
my dearest child, not to say " weep not." No, for 
it is very just and reasonable that you should weep a 
little, but a little, my dear child, in testimony of the 
sincere love you bore her; in imitation of our dear 
Master who certainly wept a little over his friend 
Lazarus ; but we must not weep much, as those do, 
who, contracting all their thoughts to the moments of 
this miserable life, remember not that we also are 
going towards eternity, where, if we live well in this 
life, we shall rejoin our dear departed ones, never to 
leave them again. 

We cannot hinder our poor heart from feeling the 
condition of this life, and the loss of those who were 
our delightful companions therein; but we must not, 
for all this, betray the solemn profession we have made 
to join our will inseparably to that of our God. 

How happy is that dear sister, to have seen come, 
little by little, and from afar, this hour of her depar- 
ture ! .For thus she prepared herself to make it holily. 
Let us adore this Divine Providence, and say : Yes, 

Various Letters. 227 

you are blessed, and all that pleases you is good. My 
God ! dearest child, how sweetly should these little 
events be received by our hearts : our hearts, I say, 
which henceforth ought to have more affection in 
heaven than on earth ! I will pray to God for this 
soul, and for the consolation of those who are his. 

Do not put yourself in trouble about your prayer, 
nor about this variety of desires which you have, for 
the variety of affections is not bad, nor the desire of 
many distinct virtues. 

As to your resolutions, you may particularize them 
thus : — I will practise more faithfully the virtues 
which are necessary to me ; as, for example, on such 
an occasion which may present itself, I am prepared 
to practise such a virtue ; and so forth. 

It is not necessary to use words, even interior ones ; 
it suffices to excite the heart, or to repose it on our 
Lord ; it suffices to regard amorously this Divine lover 
of our souls, for between lovers, eyes speak better 
than tongue. 

I write without leisure, and in presence of the 
bearer. Good night, then, my dearest child ; pour 
the death of our sister into that of our Saviour. 
Regard this death of our sister only in that of 
our Redeemer. May his will be for ever glorified ! 

Your very humble servant, &c. 

Q % 

228 St. Francis de Sales. 


To a Religious of the Visitation. 

On want of reverence in church. 

2jth December, 1615. 
The temptation to laugh in Church and at Office is 
bad, though it may seem only silly and childish ; for 
after charity the virtue of religion is the most 
excellent. As charity renders to our Lord according 
to our power, the love which is due to him, so religion 
renders him due honour and reverence ; and hence 
the faults which are committed against it are very 
bad. It is true that in yours I do not see great sin, 
as it is against the will ; but yet you must not leave 
it without some penance. When the enemy cannot 
make our souls Marion, he makes our hearts Robin;* 
and it does not matter to him, provided that time is 
lost, the spirit dissipated, and somebody scandalized. 
But, look you, dear child of my heart, do not frighten 
these good daughters ; for from one extreme they 
might pass to the other, which must not be. 

I do not yet tell you my thoughts on the subject 
you write to me about, for to-day is in Christmas- 
tide, when the angels come to seek Paradise on earth. 
Certainly it has descended into the little cavern of 
Bethlehem, in which, my dear child, I shall find you 
in these days with all our dear sisters, who doubtless 

* Adapting a proverbial expression (Bobin a troave Marion) — 
a rogue hath found his like. 

Various Letters. 229 

will make their abode, like wise bees, with their little 
King. Those who humble themselves lowest will 
see him nearest ; for he is lost in the very depths 
of humility, of courageous, confident a*nd constant 
humility. May this sweet Infant be for ever, my 
dearest daughter, the life of your heart, which I 
cherish incomparably, and which is always present to 
mine, so long as it pleases God that my love should 
strengthen itself by want of exterior manifestation. 


To a Lady. 

The way not to offend God in the pleasure of the chase. 

Annecy, 20th June, 16 10. 
You see, my dearest daughter, what confidence I have 
in you. I have not written to you since your depar- 
ture, because really I have not been able to do 
so; and I make you no excuse, because you are 
truly, and more and more, my more than most dear 

God be praised for that your journey back has 
been made nicely and quietly, and that you have 
found your husband happy. Truly, that heavenly 
Providence of the heavenly Father treats with sweet- 
ness the children of his heart, and from time to time 
mingles favourable sweetnesses with the fruitful bitter- 
nesses which merit them. 

230 St. Francis de Sales. 

M. Michel asked me what I wrote to M. Legrand 
about hunting ; but, my dearest daughter, it was only 
a little thing in which I told him there were three 
laws to observe in order to avoid offending God in 
the chase. 

i°. Not to do damage to our neighbour, it being 
not reasonable that any one should take his recreation 
at the expense of another, and specially in treading 
down the poor peasant, who is already martyred 
enough otherwise, and whose labour and condition 
we should not despise. 

2°. Not to employ in hunting the time of the chief 
feasts, in which we ought to serve God : and above all, 
to take care not to omit Mass on the days commanded. 

2°. Not to spend too much on it, for all recreations, 
become blameworthy when extravagant. 

I do not remember the rest. In general, discretion 
must reign everywhere. 

So then, my dearest daughter, may God be ever 
in the midst of your heart, to unite all your affections 
to his holy love. Amen. 

So has he, I assure you, put in my heart a most 
unchanging and entire affection for yours, which I 
cherish unceasingly, praying God to crown it with 
blessing. Amen, my very dear, and always more 
very dear, daughter. 

Various Letters. 23 t 


To Madame de Chantal. 

Thoughts on the renewal of the year. 

2&th December, 1605. 
I end this year, my dear child, with a desire not only 
great but ardent to advance for the future in that holy 
love, which I cease not to love though I have not yet 
tasted it. Thank God, my child, our heart (notice, I 
say our) is made for that. Ah ! why are we not all 
full of it ? You cannot imagine the sense which I 
have at present of this desire. O God ! For what 
shall we live through the next year save to love this 
sovereign goodness better ! Oh ! that it may take us 
from this world, or that it may take this world from 
us ; may it make us die, or else make us love his 
death better than our poor life ! 

My God ! how I wish you, my child, in Bethlehem 
now with your holy Abbess (the blessed Virgin) ! 
Ah ! how well it becomes her to bring forth, and to 
nurse this little Infant ! But chiefly I love her charity, 
which lets him be seen and held and kissed by any- 
body. Ask her for him, she will give him ; and when 
you have him, steal secretly from him one of those 
little droplets which are in his eyes. They are not 
yet the rain, but only the first dew-drops of his tears. 
It is a marvel how good this liquor is for every sort 
of disease of the heart. 

Do not load yourself with austerities this Lent, 

232 St. Francis de Sales. 

"without your confessor's leave, and he, by my advice, 
will not load you with them. May God deign to 
crown your year, beginning with roses, which his 
blood has coloured ! Adieu, my dear child ; I am he 
who has dedicated to you his entire service. 


To the Same. 

Wishes of blessing for the New Year. 

29th December , 1606. 
Behold this year, my dearest child, about to lose 
itself in the gulf in which all the preceding are swal- . 
lowed up. Oh ! how desirable is eternity, at the 
price of these miserable and perishable vicissitudes ! 
Let time flow, with which we ourselves flow away 
little by little, to be transformed into the glory of the 
children of God. 

This is the last time I write to you this year, my 
dear child. Ah ! what blessings I wish you, and with 
what ardour ! It cannot be expressed. Alas ! when 
I think how I have used God's time, I am in great 
fear lest he should not will to give me his eternity, 
since he does not will to give it save to those who use 
his time well. 

I am three months without letters from you ; but I 
know God is with you, that is enough for me ; it is 
he that I wish you only. I write without leisure, for 

Varieties Letters. 233 

my room is full of people who draw me away ; but 
my heart is solitary all the time, and full of desire to 
live for ever entirely for this holy love, which is the 
only object of this same heart of mine. 

At any rate, during these sacred days a thousand 
desires have seized me to give you the glorious satis- 
faction you so much desire from my soul, as from 
your very own, by advancing solicitously towards holy 
perfection. To this you also aspire, and by this you 
respire, for the good of my heart, which in return 
wishes you for ever all the highest union with God 
which can be had here below. This is the only wish 
of him whom God has given you. 

To a Lady. 

Wishes for the New Year. 

29th December j 1606. 
Well, now, what matters it to your dear soul, my 
dearest daughter, whether I write to you in one style 
or in another, since it asks nothing from me except 
the assurance of my worthless health, about which I 
do not deserve that any one should have the least 
thought in the world ? But I will tell you that it is 
good, thanks to our Lord, and that I hope it will serve 
me well these holy feasts for preaching, as it has done 
in the Advent, and that so we shall complete this year 
to begin a new one. 

234 St* Francis de Sales. 

O God ! my dear child, these years pass away, and 
glide off imperceptibly one after the other; and in 
winding off their length, they wind off onr mortal life, 
and in ending they end onr days. Oh ! how infinitely 
more to be loved is eternity, since its duration is 
endless, and its days without nights, and its satisfac- 
tions unchanging. 

May you, my dearest daughter, possess this ad- 
mirable good of holy eternity in as high degree as I 
wish it you ! What happiness for my soul, if God, 
having mercy on it, made it see this consolation ! But 
while waiting to see our Lord glorified, let us see him 
with the eyes of faith all humbled in his little crib. 
May God be ever in the midst of your heart, my 
dearest daughter. Amen. 

Vive Jesus ' 

To Madame de Chantal. 

Same Subject. 

O Jesus ! fill our heart with the sacred balm of 
your Divine name, that the sweetness of its perfume 
may spread into all our senses, and over all our acts. 
But to make this heart capable of receiving so sweet a 
liquor, circumcise it, and cut off" from it all that can 
be disagreeable to your holy eyes. O glorious name, 
which the mouth of the heavenly Father has pro- 

Various Letters. 235 

nounced eternally, be for ever the superscription of our 
souls, that, as you are Saviour, our soul may be 
eternally saved ! O holy Virgin, who, first of all the 
human race, have pronounced this name of salvation, 
inspire us how to pronounce it fittingly, that all may 
breathe in us the salvation which your womb has 
brought us ! 

My dearest child, it was fitting to write the first 
letter of this year to our Lord and our Lady ; and 
here is the second, by which, O my daughter, I wish 
you a good year, and I dedicate our heart to the 
Divine goodness. O that we may so live this year 
that it may serve as foundation for the eternal year ! 
At least this morning I have on waking cried out unto 
your ears : Vive Jesus ! and have longed to spread 
this sacred oil over all the face of the earth. 

When a balm is well closed in a flask, no one can 
tell what liquor it is save him who has put it there ; 
but when it is opened, and some drops have been 
poured out, every one says : It is balm. My dear 
child, our dear little Jesus was all filled with the balm 
of salvation ; but this was not known till with that 
knife, lovingly cruel, his Divine flesh was opened ; and 
then it was known that he is all balm and oil poured out, 
and the balm of salvation. Wherefore first St. Joseph 
and our Lady, then all the neighbours begin to cry 
Jesus, which signifies Saviour. 

May it please this Divine darling (poupon*) to steep 
our souls in his blood, and to perfume them with his 
* A pretty rosy little babe. 

236 St. Francis de Sales. 

holy name, that the roses of good desires which we 
have conceived may be all empurpled with its colour, 
and all odorous with its unction ! 

My God ! how aptly fits in this circumcision, my 
child, with our little and our great abnegations ! for 
these are properly a spiritual circumcision. Your 
very affectionate, &c. 

To the Same. 

Same Subject. 

You will be the first, my dearest and best mother, 
who will receive a letter from me this new year. 
Certainly reason requires that after having done hom- 
age to the heavenly Father and Mother, I should do 
it also to the only mother whom Their Majesties have 
given me for this life. Good and most holy year to 
my dearest mother from her son, who wishes her the 
abundance of the grace of the Eternal Father, of the 
peace of the circumcised Son, and of the consolation 
of the Holy Spirit, dedicating with this same heart of 
my dearest mother mine also to the glory of the Divine 
goodness, and consecrating to it all the moments of 
this new year, to make an entire circumcision of this 
same heart, and to apply it to receive purely and per- 
fectly the sacred love, which the heavenly and divine 
name of Jesus announces to us written in his blood, 
on the holy humanity of the Saviour. 

Various Letters. 237 

I cannot promise myself to see you before Wednes- 
day, unless with the continued sight with which my 
heart regards and guards yours dearly in the bottom 
of my heart. Ah ! my God ! dear mother, how I 
desire Divine love for this heart, what blessings T wish 
it ! Let us kiss a thousand times the feet of this 
Saviour, and say to him : My heart, O my God, calls 
for you ; my face longs for you : Ah ! Lord, my face 
seeks for yours ;* that is, my dearest mother, let us 
keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, to regard him, our 
mouth to praise him ; and in fine, let all our face 
aspire only to become like that of our dear Jesus. 
It is Jesus, for whom we must humble ourselves, 
commence work, and suffer ; becoming, as St. Paul 
says, sheep for the slaughter, when it shall please his 
Divine Majesty to make us dishonoured for his honour 
and glory. 

So, then, a good and most holy year to my dearest 
mother, all perfumed with the name of Jesus, all 
steeped in his sacred blood. May no day of this year, 
and no day of many years which I pray God to grant 
to my dearest mother, pass without being watered by 
the virtue of this blood, and receiving the sweetness 
of this name which spreads abroad the perfection of 
all sweetness. Amen. 

So may this sacred name fill with its agreeable 

sound all the congregation of our sisters, and the drops 

of blood of the little Saviour become a river of sanctity 

to rejoice and fertilize the hearts of this dear flock, 

# Ps. xxvi. 18. 

238 St. Francis de Sales. 

and above all, that of my dearest mother, which mine 
loves as myself. Blessed be Jesus ! Blessed be his 
blood ! Blessed be Mary ! Blessed be her womb, 
from which Jesus took this blood. 

To a Superior of the Visitation. 

TJic Saint tells her how to distinguish true revelations from 


As I could not sooner, my dearest child, I will now 
answer the two chief points about which you wrote 
to me. 

In all that I have seen of this daughter, I find 
nothing to prevent my thinking her a very good girl, 
and therefore she must be loved and cherished with 
very good heart ; but as to her revelations and pre- 
dictions, they are entirely suspicious to me, as useless, 
vain, and unworthy of consideration. On the one 
side, they are so frequent that the frequency and 
multitude of them alone makes them merit suspi- 
cion ; on the other hand, they manifest certain things 
which God declares very rarely, such as the assur- 
ance of eternal salvation, confirmation in grace, the 
degree of sanctity of several persons, and a hundred 
other similar things which are useful for nothing. 
St. Gregory, having been asked by a lady of honour to 
the empress, called Gregoria, about her future state, 

Various Letters. 239 

answered her : " Your benignity, my child, asks me for 
a thing equally hard and useless.-" And to say that 
in the future it will be known why these revelations are 
made, is a pretext which is used to avoid the reproach 
of the uselessness of such things. 

Further : when God wishes to use the revelations he 
gives to creatures, he generally sends before them 
either true miracles, or a very special sanctity in those 
who receive them. So the evil spirit, when he wants 
notably to deceive any one, before making him give 
out false revelations, makes him utter false predictions, 
and makes him observe a method of life falsely holy. 

There was in the time of the blessed Sister Mary 
of the Incarnation a young person of low position, 
who was possessed by the most extraordinary delusion 
that can be imagined. The enemy, under the form of 
our Lord, said for a long time his office with her, with 
a chant so melodious that it kept her in a state of per- 
petual ravishment. He gave her communion very often 
under the appearance of a silvery and resplendent 
cloud, within which he made a false host come into 
her mouth ; he made her live without eating anything. 
When she took alms to the gate, he multiplied the 
bread in her apron, so that if she only carried bread 
for three poor, and there were thirty, she had enough 
to give to all very abundantly, and most delicious 
bread, some of which even her confessor, who was of a 
very reformed order, sent about among his spiritual 
friends from devotion. 

This girl had so many revelations that at last it made 

240 £Y. Francis de Sales. 

her suspected by people of sense. . She had one ex- 
tremely dangerous, by which it was thought good to 
try the sanctity of this poor creature, and for this she 
was placed with the blessed Sister Mary of the Incar- 
nation, then still in the married state. She was 
chambermaid, and being treated a little severely by 
Mons. Acarie, now deceased, it was found that this 
girl was no saint at all, and that her gentleness and 
exterior humility were nothing but an external gilding 
which the enemy used to get the pills of his illusion 
swallowed, and at last it was found that there was 
nothing in the world in her but a heap of false visions. 
As for her, it became well known that not only did she 
not maliciously deceive the world, but that she was 
first deceived, there being on her side no other sort of 
fault except the complacency she took in imagining 
she was a saint, and contributing a few pretences and 
deceitfulnesses to keep up the reputation of her vain 
sanctity. And all this was told me by the blessed 
Sister Mary of the Incarnation. 

Consider, I pray you, my dearest child, the shrewd- 
ness and cunning of the enemy, and how deserving of 
suspicion these extraordinary things are. Still, as I 
have said, you must not treat this poor girl amiss, 
who, I think, has no other fault in this affair than 
that of the vain amusement she takes in her vain 

Only, my dearest sister, you must show a total neg- 
lect and a perfect contempt of all her revelations and 
visions, just as if she were relating the dreams or 

Various Letters. 241 

reveries of a high fever; not occupying yourself iu 
refuting or combating them ; but, on the contrary, 
when she wishes to speak of them, you must change 
the subject. You must talk to her of the solid virtues 
and perfections of the religious state, and particularly 
of the simplicity of faith, in which the saints have 
walked, without any visions or private revelations, 
content to believe firmly in the revelation of the Holy 
Scripture, and of the Apostolic and Church doctrine ; 
very often impress on her the sentence of our Lord, 
that there will be many workers of miracles and many 
prophets to whom he will say at the end of the world : 
Depart from me, workers of iniquity ; I know you not* 
But commonly you must say to this girl : Let us talk 
of our lesson which our Lord has ordered us to learn, 
saying : Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of 
heart.f And, in fine, you must show an absolute con- 
tempt for all these revelations. 

And as to the good father who seems to approve 
them, you must not rebuff him or dispute with him, 
but simply say that to test all this affair of revelations 
it seems good to despise them and take no account of 
them. This then is my opinion for the present on this 

I had forgotten to say that the visions and revela- 
tions of this girl must not be found strange, because 
the facility and tenderness of the imagination of young 
women makes them much more susceptible of these 
illusions than men ; on which account their sex is more 
* Mat. vii. 22, 23. f Mat. xi. 29, 

242 Si. Francis de Sales. 

given to faith in dreams, the fear about sins, and cre- 
dulity in superstitions. They often fancy they see 
what they see not, hear what they hear not, and feel 
what they feel not. 

You must then treat this spirit by contempt of these 
fancies, but a gentle and serious contempt, and not 
a mocking or disdainful one. It may well be that 
the evil spirit has some part in these deceits, but I 
think rather that he lets the imagination act, without 
co-operating with it by simple suggestions. The 
similitude brought forward to explain the mystery of 
the Holy Trinity is very pretty, but is not beyond the 
capacity of a soul which takes complacency in its own 


To Madame de Chantal. 

Considerations on the Feast of the Conception of the Holy Virgin, 
and on a Cojoe which he had received. 

O truly this cope is lovely in the extreme, which the 
dearest mother that lives sends to her dearest father : 
for it is all in the name of Jesus and of Mary, and 
represents perfectly the heaven of the blessed where 
Jesus is the sun, and Mary the moon, a luminary pre- 
sent to all the stars of this heavenly abode ; for Jesus 
there is all to all ; and there is no star in this heavenly 

Various Letters. 243 

day in which he is not reflected as in a mirror ; and 
the double phi's * signify, as capital letters, philotheyf 
and philanthropy, love of God and love of our neigh- 
bour ; and the ss closed, with their arrows, which 
ascend on one side and descend on the other, show the 
exercise of these Divine loves, one of which ascends to 
God, and makes philotheists ; the other descends to 
our neighbour, and makes philanthropists, both being 
the one good of charity, which makes us true servants 
of the Divine Majesty. Over all flows out the Holy 
Spirit, and makes appear a great variety of flowers 
and all sorts of virtues. 

Blessed be for ever the dear hand of the mother 
who was able so skilfully to make so beautiful a work. 
May her hand be fit to do strong things, and equally to 
manage the spindle. % May it be adorned with the 
ring of fidelity, and her arm with the bracelet of 
charity; may the right hand of the Saviour be for 
ever joined to it, and may it appear full in the day of 
judgment ; may the heart which animates it be ever 
clothed with Jesus, with Mary, with philothey, phi- 
lanthropy, sanctity; with stars, with flying darts of 
heavenly love, and with all sorts of flowering virtues ; 
may the Holy Spirit shine on it always. Good-night, 
my very dear daughter, my mother. 

But I must say jthis further. It is written of 
the strong woman that all her people have double 

* Letters of the Greek alphabet which some ornament on the 
cope resembled. 

f To coin a word. J Prov. xxxi. 

B 2 

244- SV. Francis de Sales. 

vestments ;* one, I think, for ths feasts, the other for 
working days ; and here I am clothed with an admir- 
able cope for feasts; a lovely cope, and of Easter 
colour, and also with a robe for every day, of the 
colour of the robe which our Saviour wore on the 
Mount of the Passion. May God our Lord clothe you 
with his passion and with his glory ! 

I will do for your daughter of St. Catherine all I 
can; and believe me I will do it with all the more 
sweetness because you wish it. For I have an ex- 
treme sweetness in doing your will. Alas ! what a 
heart should we have to do that of the most loved 
Creator, since we have so much for the creature loved 
and united to us in him ! 

Yes, my dearest mother, put your soul quite into 
the hands of our dear Mistress, who will be conceived 
this night in the commemoration we make of her, and 
I will ask it from her ; for, my dear mother, I am quite 
resolved to have no heart but what she gives me, this 
sweet Mother of hearts, this Mother of holy love, this 
Mother of the heart of hearts. Ah ! God, what a 
great desire have I to keep my eyes on this beautiful 
star of our voyage ! Good-by, my dearest mother, 
be all joyous on the occasion of this coming feast. 
May Jesus be our heart. Amen. 

* Prov. xxxi. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

On the Feast of our Lord's Nativity. 

May the great and little infant of Bethlehem be for 
ever the darling and the love of our hearts, my dearest 
mother, my child ! Ah ! how lovely he is, this dear 
baby. I seem to see Solomon on his grand throne of 
ivory, gilded and worked, which had no equal in the 
kingdoms, as the Scripture says ; and this King had 
no equal in glory and in magnificence. But I love a 
hundred times better to see this dear little babeling 
(enfangon) in the crib, than to see all kings on their 

But if I see him on the knees of his sacred mother, 
or in her arms, having his tiny mouth (bouchette) like 
a little rosebud, attached to the lilies of her holy 
breasts, — O God ! I find him more magnificent on 
this throne, not only than Solomon on his of ivory, 
but more even than ever this eternal Son of the 

246 67. Francis de Sales. 

Father was in heaven, for if indeed heaven is more 
glorious in visible being, the holy Virgin has more of 
invisible virtues and perfections ; and a drop of milk 
which flows virginally from her sacred breasts is 
worth more than all the affluences of the heavens. 
May the great St. Joseph impart to us of his con- 
solation, the sovereign mother of her love, and the 
child deign to pour his merits into our hearts for 

I pray you, repose as quietly as you can near this 
little child : he will not cease loving your well-beloved 
heart, as it is, without tenderness and without feeling. 
See you not that he accepts the breath of this great 
ox, and of this ass, which have no sentiment nor any 
movement of love whatever j how will he not receive 
the inspirations of our poor heart, which, though not 
tenderly at present, still solidly and firmly, sacrifices 
itself at his feet, to be for ever the faithful servant of 
his heart, and of that of his holy Mother, and of the 
great governor of the little King. 

My dearest mother, this is the truth, I have quite 
a special light which makes me see that the unity of 
our hearts is a work of this grand uniter, and hence I 
desire for the future not only to love, but to cherish 
and honour this unity as sacred. 

May the joy and consolation of the Son and the 
Mother, be for ever the gladness of our soul ! I come 
from preaching all clothed by the hand of my loving 
and amiable mother, and I have been very delighted* 
Ah ! my dearest mother has covered me all over with 

Various Letters. 247 

Jesus, Maria* May this sweet Jesus and this sacred 
Mary long preserve her to me, and all the nuptial 
vestment of our heart ! Amen. Your, &c. 

To the Same. 

On Temptations and Drynesses. — Means to repel them, 
and guard ourselves against them. 

2 1 st November, 1604. 
Madam, my dearest Sister, — May our glorious and 
holiest mistress and queen, the Virgin Mary, the feast 
of whose Presentation we celebrate to-day, present our 
hearts to her Son, and give us his. Your messenger 
reached me at the most troublesome and hardest place 
I can come across during the navigation which I make 
on the tempestuous sea of this diocese. It is incre- 
dible what consolation your letters brought me. I 
am only in pain as to whether I shall be able to draw 
from the press of my affairs the leisure required to 
answer you as soon as I desire, and as well as you 
expect. I will say in haste what I can, and if any- 
thing remains after that, I will write it in a very short 
time by an acquaintance, who goes to Dijon and 

I thank you for the trouble you have taken to 
detail me the history of your gate of St. Claude, and 
I pray this blessed saint, witness of the sincerity and 
# Keferrinor to some vestments she had made for him. 

248 St. Francis de Sales. 

integrity of heart with which I cherish you in our Lord 
and common Master, to impetrate from his goodness 
the assistance of the Holy Spirit which is necessary to 
enter properly into the repose of the tabernacle of the 
Church. It is sufficiently said once for all : yes, God 
has given me to you, I say singularly, entirely, irre- 

I come to your cross, and know not whether God 
has quite opened my eyes to see all its four ends. 

I extremely desire and beg of him, that I may be 
able to say to you something thoroughly appropriate. 
It is a certain powerlessness, you tell me, of the facul- 
ties or parts of your understanding, which hinders it 
from taking contentment in the consideration of what 
is good : and what grieves you the most is, when you 
wish to form a resolution, you feel not the accustomed 
solidity, but encounter a certain barrier, which brings 
you up short, and thence come the torments of temp- 
tations against the faith. It is properly described, 
my dear daughter ; you express yourself well ; I am 
not sure whether I understand you properly. 

You add that yet the will by the grace of God 
intends nothing but simplicity and stability in the 
Church, and that you would willingly die for the 
faith thereof. Oh, God be blessed, my dear child! 
This sickness is not unto death, but that God may be 
glorified in it* 

You have two peoples in the womb of your spirit, as 
was said to Rebecca : the one fights against the other, 
* John xi. 4. 

Various Letters. 249 

but at last the younger will supplant the elder* Self- 
love never dies till we die ; it has a thousand ways of 
entrenching itself in our soul, we cannot dislodge it ; 
it is the eldest-born of our soul, for it is natural, or, 
at least, co-natural : it has a legion of carabineers 
with it, of movements, actions, passions ; it is adroit, 
and knows a thousand subtle turns. On the other 
side, you have the love of God, which is conceived 
afterwards, and is second-born ; it also has its move- 
ments, inclinations, passions, actions. These two 
children in one womb fight together like Esau and 
Jacob ; whence Rebecca cried out : Was it not better 
to die than to conceive with such pains ? From these 
convulsions follows a certain disgust, which causes 
you to relish not the best meats. But what imports 
it whether you relish or relish not, since you cease 
not to eat well ? 

If I had to lose one of my senses, I would choose 
that it should be the taste, as less necessary even than 
smell, it seems to me. Believe me, it is only taste 
which fails you, not sight : you see, but without 
satisfaction : you chew bread, but as if it were tow, 
without taste or relish. It seems to you that your 
resolutions are without force, because they are not 
gay nor joyous ; but you mistake, for the Apostle 
St. Paul very often had only that kind. 

You do not feel yourself firm, constant, or very 
resolute. There is something in me, thus say you, 
which has never been satisfied ; but I cannot say 

* Gen. xxv. 22, 23. 

2 5 o Si. Francis de Sales. 

what it is. I should very much like to know it, my 
dear child, to tell it you ; but I hope that some day, 
hearing you at leisure, I shall learn it. Meanwhile,, 
might it not be a multitude of desires, which obstructs 
your spirit, — I have been ill with that complaint. 
The bird fastened to the perch only knows itself to be 
fastened, and feels the shocks of its detention and 
restraint, when it wants to fly; and in the same way,, 
before it has its wings, it knows its powerlessness only 
by the trial of flight. 

For a remedy, then, my dear child, since you have 
not yet your wings for flight, and your own power- 
lessness puts a bar to your efforts, do not flutter, do. 
not make eager attempts to fly : have patience till 
you get your wings, like the doves. I greatly fear 
that you have a little too much ardour for the quarry, 
that you are over-eager, and multiply desires a little 
too thickly. You see the beauty of illuminations, the 
sweetness of resolutions, you seem almost to grasp 
them, and the vicinity of good excites your appetite 
for it, and this appetite agitates you, and makes you 
dart forth, but for nothing ; for the master keeps you 
fastened on the perch, or perhaps you have not your 
wings as yet ; and meanwhile you grow thin by this* 
constant movement of the heart, and continually lessen 
your strength. You must make trials, but moderate; 
ones, and without agitating yourself, and without 
putting yourself into heat. 

Examine well your practice in this matter ; perhaps 
you will see that you let your spirit cling too much to 

Various Letters. 2 5 1 

the desire of this sovereign sweetness which the sense 
of firmness, constancy, and resolution brings to the 
soul. You have firmness, for what else is firmness but 
to will rather to die than sin, or quit the faith ? But 
you have not the sense of it ; for if you had you would 
have a thousand joys from it. So, then, check yourself,, 
do not excite yourself; you will be all the better, and 
your wings will thus strengthen themselves more easily. 

This eagerness then is a fault in you, and there is a 
something, I do not know what, which is not satisfied ; 
for it is a fault against resignation. You resign 
yourself well, but it is with a but; for you would 
much like to have this or that, and you agitate your- 
self to get it. A simple desire is not contrary to 
resignation, but a panting of heart, a fluttering of 
wings, an agitation of will, a multiplying of dartings 
out, — this, undoubtedly, is a fault against resignation. 
Courage, my dear sister, since our will is God's, 
doubtless we ourselves are his. You have all that is 
needed, but have no sense of it ; there is no great 
loss in that. 

Do you know what you must do ? You must be 
pleased not to fly, since you have not yet your wings. 
You make me think of Moses. That holy man, 
having arrived on Mount Pisgah, saw all the land of 
promise before his eyes, the land which for forty 
years he had aspired after and hoped for, amid the 
murmurs and seditions of his people, and amid the 
rigours of the deserts j he saw it and entered it not, 
but died while looking at it. He had your glass of 

252 Si. Francis de Sales. 

water at his lips, and could not drink. O God, what 
sighs this soul must have fetched ! He died there 
more happy than many did in the land of promise, 
since God did him the honour of burying him him- 
self. And so, if you had to die without drinking of 
the water of the Samaritan woman, what would it 
matter, so that your soul was received to drink 
eternally in the source and fountain of life? Do 
not excite yourself to vain desires, and do not 
even excite yourself about not exciting yourself; go 
quietly on your way, for it is good. 

Know, my dear sister, that I write these things to 
you with much distraction, and that if you find them 
confused it is no wonder, for I am so myself; but, 
thank God, without disquiet. Do you want to know 
whether I speak the truth, when I say that there is 
in you a defect of entire resignation ? You are quite 
willing to have a cross, but you want to have the 
choice ; you would have it common, corporal, and of 
such or such sort. How is this, my well-beloved 
daughter ? Ah ! no, I desire that your cross and 
mine be entirely crosses of Jesus Christ; and as to 
the imposition of them, and the choice, the good God 
knows what he does, and why he does it : for our 
good, no doubt. Our Lord gave to David the choice 
of the rod with which he would be scourged, and, 
blessed be God ; but I think I would not have chosen : 
I would have let his Divine Majesty do all. The more 
a cross is from God the more we should love it. 

Well now, my sister, my daughter, my soul (and 

Various Letters. 253 

this is not too much you well know), tell me, is not 
God better than man ? is not man a true nothing in 
comparison with God ? And yet here is a man, or 
rather the merest nothing of all nothings, the flower 
of all misery, who loves no less the confidence you 
have in him, though you may have lost the sense and 
taste of it, than if you had all the sentiments in the 
world ; and will not God hold your good will agreeable, 
though without any feeling ? / am, said David, like 
a bottle in the frost,* which is of no use. As many 
drynesses, as much barrenness as you like, provided 
we love God. 

But, after all, you are not yet in the land in which 
there is no light, for you have the light sometimes, 
and God visits you. Is he not good, think you ? It 
seems to me this vicissitude makes you very agreeable 
to God. Still, I approve your showing to our sweet 
Saviour, but lovingly and without excitement, your 
affliction ; and, as you say, he at least lets your soul 
find him ; for he is pleased that we should tell him 
the pain he gives us, and lament to him, provided it 
be amorously and humbly, and to himself, as little 
children do, when their mother has whipped them. 
Meanwhile, there must be a little suffering, with sweet- 
ness. I do not think there is any harm in saying to 
our Lord : Come into our souls. This Lord knows 
whether I have ever been to communion without you 
*ince my departure from your town. 

No, that has no appearance of evil ; God wishes 
* Ps. cxviii. 83. 

254 St- Francis de Sales. 

that I should serve him in suffering dryness, anguish, 
temptations, like Job, like St. Paul, and not in 

Serve God as he wishes, you will see that one day 
he will do all you wish, and more than you know how 
to wish. 

The books which you read for half an hour are 
Granada, Gerson, the Life of Christ, turned into 
French from the Latin of Ludolph the Carthusian, 
Mother (St.) Teresa; the Treatise on Affliction* 
which I have mentioned in a former letter. 

Ah ! shall we not one day be all together in heaven 
to bless God eternally ? I hope so and rejoice in it. 

The promise which you made to our Lord never to 
refuse anything which might be asked you in his 
name, could not oblige you except to love him pro- 
perly ; I mean, that you might get to understand it in 
such a fashion that the practice of it would be vicious, 
as you might give more than you ought and indis- 
creetly. This then is understood with the condition 
of observing true discretion ; and in this case, it is no 
more than to say that you will love God entirely, and 
will accommodate yourself to live, speak, act and give 
according to his pleasure. 

I keep the books of psalms, and thank you for the 
music, of which I know nothing at all, though Hove it 
extremjely when applied to the praise of our Lord. 

Truly, when you want me to hurry, and to find 
leisure without leisure to write to you, send me this 
* By F. Kibadaneira, S.J. 

Various Letters. 255 

good man N ,. for, to tell the truth, he has urged 

me so extremely that more could not be, and has not 
been willing to give me time, not even a day ; and I 
tell you fairly I should not like to be judge in a cause 
in which he was counsel. 

I cannot drop the word Madam : for I do not wish 
to think myself more affectionate than St. John the 
Evangelist, who still, in the sacred epistle which he 
wrote to the lady Electa, called her madam, nor wiser 
than St. Jerome, who calls his devout Eustochium, 
madam. I desire, however, to forbid you to call me 
Monseigneur, for though it is the custom on this side 
to call Bishops so, it is not the custom on your side, 
and I love simplicity. 

The Mass of our Lady you may vow for every week, 
as you desire ; but I want it to be only for a year, at 
the end of which you will vow again, if so be; and 
begin on the Conception of our Lady, the day of my 
consecration, on which I made the great and terrific 
vow to care for souls, and to die for them if needed. 
I ought to tremble in remembering it. I say the same 
of the Chaplet, and the Ave, maris stella. 

I have observed neither order nor measure in an- 
swering you; but this bearer has taken away my 

I await, with quiet foot, a great tempest (as I wrote 
to you at the beginning) about my personal revenue. 
I await it joyously and looking at the Providence of 
God ; I hope it will be for his greater glory and my 
repose, and many other good ends. I am not sure it 

256 St. Francis de Sales. 

will come, I am only threatened with it. But why do 
I tell you this ? Eh ! because I cannot help it : my 
heart must dilate itself with yours in this way ; and 
since in this expectation I have consolation and hope 
of happiness, why should I not tell it you ? But only 
for yourself, I beg you. 

I pray earnestly for our Celse-Benigne, and all the 
little troop of girls. I also recommend myself to their 
prayers. Remember to pray for my Geneva, that God 
may convert it. 

Also remember to behave with a great respect and 
honour in all that regards the good spiritual father you 
know of; and again, treating with his disciples and 
spiritual children, let them acknowledge only true 
sweetness and humility in you. If you receive some 
reproaches, keep yourself gentle, humble, patient, and 
with no word save of true humility: for this is neces- 
sary. May God be for ever your heart, your spirit, 
your repose ; and I am, Madam, your very devoted ser- 
vant in our Lord, &c. To God be honour and glory ! — 
I add, this morning, St. Cecily's Day, that the proverb 
drawn from our St. Bernard, hell is full of good inten- 
tions, must not trouble you at all. There are two sorts of 
good wills. The one says : I would do well, but it gives 
me trouble, and I will not do it. The other : I wish 
to do well, but I have not as much power as will ; it 
is this which holds me back. The first fills hell, the 
second, Paradise. The first only begins to will and 
desire, but it does not finish willing : its desires have 
not enough courage, they are only abortions of will : 

Various Letters. 257 

that is why it fills hell. But the second produces entire 
and well-formed desires ; it is for this that Daniel was 
called man of desires. May our Lord deign to give us 
the perpetual assistance of his Holy Spirit, my well- 
beloved daughter and sister ! 


To the Same. (Madame de Chantal.) 

Patience in interior troubles. — Looking at God. — Not to be pre- 
cipitate in the choice of a state. — Advice on Confession. 

iSth February, 1605. 
I praise God for the constancy with which you support 
your tribulations. I still see in it, however, some little 
disquiet and eagerness, which hinders the final effect 
of your patience. In your patience, said the Son of 
God, you shall possess your souls."* To fully possess 
our souls is then the effect of patience ; and in pro- 
portion as patience is perfect, the possession of the soul 
becomes more entire and excellent. Now, patience is 
more perfect as it is less mixed with disquiet and 
eagerness. May God then deign to deliver you from 
these two troubles, and soon afterwards you will be 
free altogether. 

Good courage, I beseech you, my dear sister; you 
have only suffered the fatigue of the road three years, 
and you crave repose ; but remember two things : the 
* Luke xxi. 19. 


258 St. Francis de Sales. 

one, that the children of Israel were forty years in the 
desert before arriving in the country of rest which was 
promised them, and yet six weeks might easily have 
sufficed for all this journey ; and it was not lawful for 
them to inquire why God made them take so many 
turns, and led them by ways so rough, and all those 
who murmured died before their arrival. The other 
thing is, that Moses, the greatest friend of God in all 
that multitude, died on the borders of the land of 
repose, seeing it with his eyes, and not able to have 
the enjoyment of it. 

O might it please God that we should little regard 
the course of the way we tread, and have our eyes 
fixed on him who conducts us, and on the blessed 
country to which it leads ! What should it matter to 
us whether it is by the deserts or by the meadows we 
go, if God is with us and we go into Paradise ? Trust 
me, I pray you, cheat your trouble all you can ; and if 
you feel it, at least regard it not, for the sight will 
give you more fear of it, than the feeling will give you 
pain. Thus are covered the eyes of those who are 
going to suffer some painful application of the iron. I 
think you dwell a little too much on the consideration 
of your trouble. 

And as for what you say, that it is a great burden 
to will and to be unable, I will not say to you that 
we must will what we can do, but I do say it is a 
great power before God to be able to will. Go fur- 
ther, I beg you, and think of that great dereliction, 
which our Master suffered in the Garden of Olives; 

Various Letters. 259 

and see how this dear Son, having asked consolation 
from his good Father, and knowing that he willed not 
to give it him, thinks of it no more, strives after it 
no more, seeks it no more ; bnt, as if he had never 
thought of it, executes valiantly and courageously the 
work of our redemption. 

After you have prayed the Father to console you, 
if it does not please him to do it, think of it no more, 
and stiffen your courage to do the work of your salva- 
tion on the Cross, as if you were never to descend from 
it, and as if you would never more see the sky of 
your life clear and serene. What would you ? You 
must see and speak to God amid the thunders and 
the whirlwinds ; you must see him in the bush, and 
amid the thorns ; and to do this, the truth is that we 
must take off our shoes, and make a great abnegation 
of our wills and affections. But the Divine goodness 
has not called you to the state in which you are, 
without strengthening you for all this. It is for him 
to perfect his work. True, it is a little long, because 
the matter requires it ; but patience. 

In short, for the honour of God, acquiesce entirely 
in his will, and by no means believe that you can 
serve him otherwise ; for he is never well served save 
when he is served as he wills. 

Well, he wants you to serve him without relish, 
without sentiment, with repugnances and convulsions 
of spirit. This service gives you no satisfaction, but 
it contents him : it is not to your pleasure, but it is 
his pleasure. 

s 2 

260 67. Francis de Sales. 

Suppose you were never to be delivered from your 
troubles, what would you do ? You would say to 
God : I am yours ; if my miseries are agreeable to 
you, increase their number and duration. I have 
confidence in God that you would say this, and think 
no more of them ; at least you would no longer excite 
yourself. Do the same about them now, and grow 
familiar with your burden, as if you and it were 
always to live together : you will find that when you 
are no longer thinking of deliverance, God will think 
of it ; and when you are no longer disquieted, God 
will be there. 

Enough for this point, till God gives me the oppor- 
tunity of declaring it to you at leisure ; when upon it 
we will establish the assurance of our joy ; this will be 
when God lets us see one another again in person. 

This good soul, whom you and I cherish so much, 
gets you to ask me if she may wait for the presence 
of her spiritual father to accuse herself of some point 
which she did not remember in her general confession, 
and as far as I see she would strongly desire it. But 
tell her, I beg you, that this can in no way be : I 
should betray her soul if I allowed her this abuse. 
She must at the very first confession she makes, quite 
at the beginning, accuse herself of this forgotten sin 
(I say the same if there are many), purely and simply, 
though she need not repeat any other thing of her 
general confession ; this was quite good, and therefore, 
in spite of things forgotten, this soul must not trouble 
herself at all. 

Vat ious Letters. 261 

And take from her the hurtful fear which may dis- 
tress her iu this matter ; for the truth is, that the first 
and principal point of Christian simplicity lies in this 
frankness in accusing ourselves of our sins, when neces- 
sary, purely and nakedly, without dread of our con- 
fessor's ear which is held ready only to hear sins, not 
virtues, and sins of all kinds. Let her then bravely 
and courageously fulfil this duty, with great humility 
and contempt of self, not fearing to show her misery 
to him by whose agency God wills to cure her. 

But if her ordinary confessor causes her too much 
shame or fear, she may indeed go elsewhere ; but I 
would wish in this all simplicity, and I think all she 
has to say is in fact a very little matter, and it is fear 
makes it seem great. 

But tell her all this with a great charity, and assure 
her that if in this matter I could condescend to her 
inclination, I would do it very willingly, according to 
the service I have vowed for her to most holy Chris- 
tian liberty. 

But if, after this, in the first meeting she may 
have with her spiritual father, she expects to get 
some consolation and profit by manifesting to him 
the same fault, she may do it, though it is not 
necessary. Indeed, from what I have learnt by her 
last letter, she desires, and I hope even it will be 
useful to her, to make a general confession again, 
with a great preparation ; this, however, she should 
not begin till a little before her departure, for fear of 
hampering herself. 

262 St. Francis de Sales. 

Tell her also, T beg you, that I have seen the 
desire she begins to have of finding herself one day 
in the place where she can serve God with body and 
voice. Check her at this beginning ; let her know 
that this desire is of so great consequence, that she 
ought not either to continue it or allow it to grow, 
except after she has fully communicated with her 
spiritual father, and they have listened together to 
what God will say about it. I fear lest she should 
commit herself further, and afterwards it might be 
hard to bring her back to the indifference with which 
the counsels of God are to be heard. I am willing 
for her to keep it alive, but not for it to grow ; for, 
trust me, it will always be better to hear our Lord 
with indifference, and in a spirit of liberty, which 
cannot be if this desire grows strong ; it will subject 
all the interior faculties, and will tyrannize over the 
reason in its choice. 

I give you a great deal of trouble, making you the 
messenger of these answers ; but since you have 
kindly taken the trouble to propose to me the 
questions on her part, your charity will still take it to 
let her know my opinion. 

Courage, I beseech you ; let nothing move you. 
It is still night, but the day approaches; yes, it will 
not delay. But, meantime, let us put in practice the 
saying of David : Lift up your hands to the holy 
places in the night, and bless the Lord* Let us bless 

* Ps. cxxxiii. 2. 

Various Letters. 263 

him with all our heart, and pray him to be our guide, 
our bark, and our port. 

I do not mean to answer your last letter in detail, 
save in certain points which seem to me more 

You cannot believe, my dearest child, that tempta- 
tions against faith and the Church come from God : 
but whoever told you that God was the author of 
them ? Much darkness, much powerlessness, much 
tying to the perch, much dereliction and depriving of 
vigour, much disorder of the spiritual stomach, much 
bitterness in the interior mouth, which makes bitter 
the sweetest wine in the world — but suggestions of 
blasphemy, infidelity, disbelief — Ah ! no, they cannot 
come from our good God : his bosom is too pure to 
conceive such objects. 

Do you know how God acts in this ? He allows the 
evil maker (forger on) of such wares to come and offer 
them for sale, in order that by our contempt of them 
we may testify our affection for Divine things. And 
for this, my dear sister, my dearest child, are we to 
become disquieted, are we to change our attitude? O 
God, no, no (nenni) ! It is the devil who goes 
all round our soul, raging and fuming, to see if 
he can find some gate open. He did so with Job, 
with St. Anthony, with St. Catherine of Sienna, and 
with an infinity of good souls that I know, and with 
mine, which is good for nothing, and which I know 
not. And what ! for all this, my good daughter, 
must we get troubled ? Let him rage ; keep 

264 St. Francis de Sales. 

all the entrances closely shut : he will tire at last, 
or if he does not tire, God will make him raise the 

Remember what I told yon, I think, once before. 
It is a good sign when he makes so much noise and 
tempest round about the will; it is a sign that he is 
not within. And courage, my dear soul ; I say this 
word with great feeling and in Jesus Christ ; my dear 
soul, courage, I say. So long as we can say with 
resolution, though without feeling, Vive Jesus I we 
must not fear. 

And do not tell me that you say it with cowardice, 
without force or courage, but as if by a violence which 
you do yourself. O God ! there it is then, the holy 
violence which bears heaven away. Look, my child, 
it is a sign that all is taken, that the enemy has 
gained everything in our fortress, except the keep, 
which is impregnable, unseizable, and which cannot 
be ruined except by itself. It is, in fine, that free 
will, which, quite naked before God, resides in 
the supreme and most spiritual part of the soul, 
depends on no other than its God and itself; and 
when all the other faculties of the soul are lost and 
subject to the enemy, it alone remains mistress of 
itself so as not to consent. 

Now do you see souls afflicted because the enemy, 
occupying all the other faculties, makes in them his 
clamour and extremest hubbub. Scarcely can one 
hear what is said and done in this spiritual will. It 
has indeed a voice more clear and telling than the 

Various Letters. 265 

inferior will ; but this latter has a voice so harsh and 
so noisy that it drowns the clearness of the other. 

In fine, note this ; while the temptation displeases 
you there is nothing to fear : for why does it displease 
you, save because you do not will it? In a word, 
these importunate temptations come from the malice 
of the devil ; but the pain and suffering which we feel 
come from the mercy of God, against the will of the 
enemy, draws from his malice holy tribulation, by 
which he refines the gold which he would put into 
his treasures. I sum up thus: your temptations are 
from the devil and from hell, but your pains and 
afflictions are from God and Paradise : the mothers 
are from Babylon, but the daughters from Jerusalem. 
Despise the temptations, embrace the tribulations. 

I will tell you, one day, when I have plenty of 
leisure, what evil it is that causes these obstructions of 
spirit: it cannot be written in a few words. 

Have no fear, I beg you, of giving me trouble ; for 
I protest that it is an extreme consolation to be 
pressed to do you any service. Write to me then, 
and often, and without order, and in the most simple 
way you can; I shall always have an extreme content- 
ment in it. 

I am going in an hour to the little hamlet where I 
am to preach, God willing to employ me. Both in suf- 
fering and in preaching, be his name for ever blessed! 

Nothing of the tempest I spoke of has yet hap- 
pened, but the clouds are still full, dark, and charged, 
above my head. 

266 St. Francis de Sales. 

You cannot have too much confidence in me, who 
am perfectly and irrevocably yours in Jesus Christ, 
whose dearest graces and benedictions I wish you a 
thousand and a thousand times a day Let us live 
in him and for him. Amen. Your, &c. 


To the Same. 

Great crosses are more meritorious, and require more strength. 

La Roche, lgth February, 1605. 

Madam, — I have so much sweetness in my desire for 

your spiritual good, that nothing I do under this 

influence can hurt me. 

You tell me you still bear your great cross, but that 
it weighs less heavily because you have more strength. 
O Saviour of the world ! here is one who goes well ! 
We must carry our cross ; he who carries the heaviest 
will do best. May God, then, give us greater crosses, 
but may it please him to give us greater strength to 
bear them ! So, then, courage : If thou wilt believe, 
thou shalt see the glory of God.* 

I do not answer you now, for I cannot ; I am only 
passiug rapidly over your letters. I will not send you 
anything at present about the reception of the most 
Holy Sacrament ; if I can, it will be at the first con- 

* John xi. 40. 

Various Letters. 267 

I saw one day a pious picture ; it was a heart, ou 
which the little Jesus was seated. O God, said I, 
thus may you sit on the heart of this daughter whom 
you have given me, and to whom you have given me. 
It pleased, me in this picture that Jesus was seated 
and resting, for that represented to me a certain 
stability; and it pleased me that he was a child, for 
that is the age of perfect simplicity and sweetness : 
and communicating on the day on which I knew you 
were doing the same, I entertained by this desire that 
blessed guest, in this place (the heart) both in your 
house and in mine. God be in all and everywhere 
blessed, and deign to possess our hearts for ever and 
ever ! Amen. Your, &c. 

To the Same. 

Never to forget the day on which we returned to God. 

10th July, 1605. 
I have forgotten to say to you, my dear child, that if 
the prayers of St. John, and St. Francis, and the others 
you say, have more relish for you in French (than in 
Latin), I am very pleased that you should recite them 
so. Remain in peace, my child, with your Spouse 
clasped tightly in your arms. 

Oh! how satisfied is my soul with the exercise of 
penance we have made these days past, happy days, 

268 St. Francis de Sales, 

and acceptable and memorable ! Job desires that the 
day of his birth perish/ and that there never be a 
remembrance of it ; but, as for me, my child, I wish, 
on the contrary, that these days, in which God has 
made you all his own, should live for ever in your 
soul, and that the remembrance of them should be 
perpetual. Yes, indeed, my child, they are days 
whose memory will, without doubt, be eternally agree- 
able and sweet, provided that our resolutions, taken 
with so much strength and courage, remain well 
closed and safe, under the precious seal I have put 
with my hand. 

I wish, my child, that we should celebrate every 
year their anniversary days, by the addition of some 
particular exercises to our ordinary ones. I wish that 
we should call them days of our dedication, since in 
them you have so entirely dedicated your spirit to 
God. Let nothing trouble you henceforth, my child ; 
say with St. Paul : From henceforth, let no one be 
troublesome to me, for I bear the marks of Jesus Christ 
in my body ;f that is, I am his vowed, consecrated, 
sacrificed servant. 

Keep the enclosure of your monastery, let not your 
intentions go forth hither and thither; for this is 
only a distraction of heart. Keep the rule well, and 
believe, but believe firmly, that the Son of Madam 
your Abbess (the Blessed Virgin) will be all yours. 

Keep up, as far as ever you can, a close union 
amongst yourself, Madame du "Puits d'Orbe, and 
* Job iii. 3. t Gal. vi. 17. 

Various Letters. 269 

Madame Brulart; for I think this will be profitable to 

You will conclude, since I write to you on every 
occasion, that I see you often in spirit : it is true. 
No, it will never be possible for anything to separate 
me from your soul : the tie is too strong. Death 
itself will have no power to dissolve it, since it is of a 
stuff which lasts for ever. 

I am much consoled, my dear child, to see you 
filled with the desire of obedience : it is a desire of 
incomparable value, and one which will support you 
in all your trials. Ah ! no, my very beloved child, 
regard not whom but for whom you obey. Your vow 
is addressed to God, though it regards a man. My 
God ! do not fear that the providence of God may 
fail you; no, if necessary, he would rather send an 
angel to conduct you than leave you without guide, 
since with so much courage and resolution you 
wish to obey. Repose, then, my dear child, in this 
paternal Providence, resign yourself entirely to it. 
Meanwhile, as much as I can, I will spare myself, in 
order to keep my promise to you, and by help of 
celestial grace, to be able long to serve you ; but may 
this Divine will be always done ! Amen. 

Yesterday I went on the lake in a little boat, to 
visit M. the Archbishop of Vienne; and I was very 
glad to have nothing (save a two-inch plank) to trust 
to, except holy Providence; and I was still more glad 
to be there under the obedience of the boatman. He 
made us sit and keep still, without moving, as seemed 

270 St. Francis de Sales. 

good to him, and indeed I did not move. But, my 
child, do not take these words for things of high value. 
No, they are only little fancies of virtue, which my 
heart makes to cheer itself, for when it is in good 
sooth, I am not so brave. 

I cannot help writing to you with a great nudity 
and simplicity of spirit. A-Dieu (to God), my dearest 
child, this same God whom I adore, and who has 
made me so uniquely and intimately yours, that his 
name, and that of his holy Mother, may be blessed 
for ever. 

Yesterday, also, I called to mind St. Martha, 
exposed in a little boat with Magdalen : God was their 
pilot to land them in our France. A-Dieu, again, my 
dear child : live all-joyous, all-constant in our dear 
Jesus. Amen. 

To the Same. 

Not to reason with temptations, nor to fear them, nor even 
reflect on them. 

St. Augustine's Day, 30th August, 1605. 

You will have now to hand, I am sure, my child, 
the three letters which I have written to you, and 
which you had not yet received when you wrote to 
me on the 10th August. It remains for me to answer 

Various Letters. 271 

yours of that date, since by the preceding I have 
answered all the others. 

Your temptations against faith have come back ; 
and though you do not answer them a single word, 
they press you. You do not answer them : that is 
good, my child; bnt you think too much of them, 
you fear them too much, you dread them too much : 
they would do you no harm without that. You are 
too sensitive to temptations. You love the faith, and 
would not have a single thought come to you, con- 
trary to it ; and as soon as ever a single one touches 
you, you grieve about it and distress yourself. You 
are too jealous of this purity of faith ; everything 
seems to spoil it. No, no, my child, let the wind 
blow, and think not that the rustling (frifilis) of the 
leaves is the clashing (cliquetis) of arms. 

Lately I was near the bee-hives, and some of the 
bees flew on to my face : I wanted to raise my hand, 
and brush them off. No, said a peasant to me, do 
not be afraid, and do not touch them : they will not 
sting you at all; if you touch them they will bite you. 
I trusted him; not one bit me. Trust me; do not 
fear these temptations, do not touch them, they will 
not hurt you; pass on, and do not occupy yourself 
with them. 

I return from that extremity of my diocese which 
is on the Swiss border, where I have achieved the 
establishment of thirty-three parishes, in which, eleven 
years ago, there were only ministers ; and I was there 
three years quite alone preaching the Catholic faith : 

272 St. Francis de Sales. 

and God has made this voyage an entire consolation 
to me; for in place of my not finding a hundred 
Catholics, I have not left there now a hundred Hugue- 
nots. I have indeed had trouble in this journey and 
a terrible embarrassment ; and as it was about tem- 
poral things and the provision of churches,, I have 
been very much opposed. But God has put a good 
end to it by his grace, and also there has been some 
little spiritual fruit in it. I say this because my heart 
can conceal nothing from yours, and considers itself 
not to be a different or other heart, but one with 

To-day is St. Augustine's; and you may guess 
whether I have besought for you the mother of the 
servant (St. Monica). May God be our heart, my 
child ; and I am in him and by his will, all yours. 
Live joyful, and be generous. God, whom we love, 
and to whom we are vowed, wishes us to be such. 
It is he who has given me to you : may he be for 
ever blessed and praised ! 

P.S. I was closing this letter, badly done as it is, 
and here are brought to me two others, one of the 
1 6th, the other of the 20th August, enclosed in a 
single packet. I see nothing in them save what I 
have said ; you fear temptations too much. There is 
no harm but that. Be quite convinced that all the 
temptations of hell cannot stain a soul which does not 
love them : let them then have their course. The 
Apostle St. Paul suffers terrible ones, and God does 
not will to take them from him, and all in love. 

Various Letters. 273 

Come, come, my child, courage ; let the heart be ever 
with its Jesus ; and let this vile beast {matin) bark at 
the gate as much as he likes. Live, my dear child, 
with the sweet Jesus, and your holy abbess, amid the 
darkness, the nails, the thorns, the spears, the dere- 
lictions ; and with your mistress (St. Monica), live 
long in tears without gaining anything : at last, God 
will raise you up, and will rejoice you, and will make 
you see the desire of your heart* 

I hope so; and if he does not, still we will not 
cease serving him ; and he will not, on that account, 
cease to be our God ; for the affection we owe him is 
of an immortal and imperishable nature. 

To Madame de Chantal. 

He exhorts her to prepare her heart that the Blessed Virgin may 
be born therein , and to unite herself closely to Jesus. — u The 
little virtues" 

13th September, 1605. 

My God ! dear child, when will the time come that 
our Lady will be born in our hearts ? For my part, 
I see that I am totally unworthy of it ; you will think 
just the same of yourself. But her Son was born in 
the stable ; so courage then, let us get a place prepared 
for this holy babeling. She loves only places made 
low by humility, common by simplicity, but large by 

* Ps. XX. 2. 


274 St. Francis de Sales. 

charity ; she is willingly near the crib, and at the foot 
of the cross ; she does not mind if she goes into Egypt, 
far from all comfort, provided she has her dear Son 
with her. 

No, our Lord may wrestle with us and throw us to 
left or to right ; he may, as with other Jacobs, press 
us, may give us a hundred twists ; may engage us, 
first on one side, then on the other ; in short, may 
do us a thousand hurts : all the same, we will not leave 
him till he give us his eternal benediction. And, 
my child, never does our good God leave us save to 
hold us better ; never does he let go of us save to keep 
us better, never does he wrestle with us except to give 
himself up to us and to bless us. 

Let us advance, meanwhile, let us advance ; let us. 
make our way through these low valleys of the humble 
and little virtues ; we shall see in them the roses 
amid the thorns, charity which shows its beauty among 
interior and exterior afflictions; the lilies of purity, 
the violets of mortification : what shall we see not ? 
Above all, I love these three little virtues, sweetness 
of heart, poverty of spirit, and simplicity of life ; and 
these substantial (grossiers) exercises, visiting the 
sick, serving the poor, comforting the afflicted, and 
the like : but the whole without eagerness, with a true 
liberty. No, our arms are not yet long enough to 
reach the cedars of Lebanon ; let us content ourselves 
with the hyssop of the valleys. 

Various Letters. 275 

To Madame de Chantal. 

We are to carry Jesus Christ in our soul. 

1 6th November, 1605. 
My dear Child, — I find a particular consolation in 
speaking to you in this dumb language (of letters), 
after speaking all day to so many others in the lan- 
guage of the tongue. So, then, I needs must tell you 
what I am doing, for I know almost nothing besides ; 
and I hardly know properly what I am doing. 

I come from prayer, in which asking myself for 
what cause we are in this world, I have learnt that we 
are in it only to receive and carry the sweet Jesus, on 
our tongue by announcing him, in our arms by doing 
good works, on our shoulders by bearing his yoke, his 
drynesses and sterilities, and thus in our interior and 
exterior senses. O how blessed are they that carry 
him sweetly and constantly ! 

I have in truth carried him all these days on my 
tongue, and I have carried him into Egypt, it seems 
to me, since in the Sacrament of Confession I have 
heard a great number of penitents, who have, with an 
extreme confidence, addressed themselves to me, to 
receive him into their sinful souls. God grant that 
he may stay there ! 

I have also in prayer learnt a practice of the pre- 
sence of God, which, for the moment, I have locked 
up in a corner of my memory, to communicate it to 

T 1 

276 St Francis de Sales. 

you as soon as I have read the treatise which Father 
Arias has made upon it. 

Have a large heart, my dear child, and ever larger 
under the will of our God. Do you know what I 
said when spreading your corporal ? Thus, said I, may 
the heart of her who sent it me be spread out, under 
the sacred influences of our Saviour's will ! Courage, 
my daughter, keep yourself close to your holy Abbess 
(the Blessed Virgin), and beg her without ceasing that 
we may live, die, and live again in the love of her dear 
child. Vive Jesus, who has made me all yours, and 
more so than I can express ! May the peace of the 
sweet Jesus reign in your heart ! 

To a Young Lady. 

What the courage of Christians is. 

January, 1606. 

This letter is to my daughter, who is kind, and whose 
heart I feel to be unchangeable in the holy friendship 
which she bears me. I have given myself time enough 
to answer I know, but my leisure has been taken up 
with embarrassments which our jubilee has brought me. 
Truly, my dearest daughter, the resolutions which you 
communicate to me were all as I could have wished 
you them, and therefore good ones. Keep closely to 
holy humility and the love of your own abjection. 

Various Letters. 277 

Know that the heart which loves God must be attached 
only to the love of God : if this same God wills to give 
it another love, he may; if he does not will to give it 
another, he does as he pleases. I am sure, however, 
that this good daughter will not keep her heart back. 
I should be greatly grieved, for I love her, and she 
would commit a great fault. 

Ah! my dear daughter, how falsely do we call courage, 
what is haughtiness and vanity ! Christians call these 
cowardice and faint-heartedness : as, on the contrary, 
they call courage, patience, gentleness, mildness, hu- 
mility, the acceptance and love of contempt and abjec- 
tion. For such has been the courage of our Captain, 
of his Mother, of his Apostles, and of the most valiant 
soldiers of this heavenly army ; a courage with which 
they have overcome tyrants, conquered kings, and 
gained over the whole world to the obedience of the 
crucified. Be equal-minded, my dearest daughter, 
towards all -these good young persons : salute them, 
honour them ; do not avoid them, yet neither seek them, 
except in so far as they seem to wish it. Do not speak 
about all this unless with an extreme charity. Try to 
bring that soul which you are going to visit to some 
sort of excellent resolution. I say excellent, because 
little resolutions not to do wrong are not sufficient; 
we must also do all the good we can, and cut off not 
only what is wrong, but all that is not of God and for 

Well, now we shall see one another, please God, 
before Easter. Live entirely for him who died for us, 

278 St. Francis de Sales, 

and be crucified with him. May he be blessed eternally 
by you, my dearest daughter, and by me, who am, 
without end, your, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

Means of passing Lent well. 

Chamber y y 21st February, 1606. 
This can only be a short letter, for I am just going 
into the pulpit, my dearest child. You are now at 
Dijon, and I wrote thither a few days ago ; there you 
abound, by the grace of God, in many consolations, 
which I share in spirit. Lent is the autumn of the 
spiritual life, in which we should gather the fruits, and 
store them for the whole year. Enrich yourself, I beg 
you, with those precious treasures which nothing can 
deprive you of or spoil. Remember what I am accus- 
tomed to say : we shall never spend one good Lent, as 
long as we expect to make two. Let us then make 
this as the last, and we shall make it well. I know 
that at Dijon there will be some excellent preacher; 
holy words are pearls, and pearls of the true Eastern 
ocean, the abyss of mercy ; get together many round 
your neck, hang plenty from your ears, encircle your 
arms with them ; these ornaments are not forbidden 
to widows : for they do not make them vain, but 

Various Letters. 279 

As for me, I am here, where, as yet, I see no more 
than a slight movement of souls towards true devotion. 
God will increase it, if he please, for his holy glory. 
I am going now to tell my audience that their souls 
are the vineyard of God : the cistern is faith, the tower 
is hope, and the press holy charity; the hedge is the 
law of God which separates from other people who are 
infidels. To you, my dear child, I say that your good 
will is your vineyard; the cistern is the holy inspirations 
of perfection which God rains down from heaven ; the 
tower is holy chastity, which, as is said of David's, 
should be of ivory ; the press is obedience, which pro- 
duces great merit in the actions it squeezes out; the 
hedge is your vows. Oh ! may God preserve this vine- 
yard which he has planted with his hand ! May God 
make more and more abound the salutary waters of 
grace in his cistern ! May God be for ever the pro- 
tector of his tower ! May God will to give all the 
turns to the press which are necessary for squeezing 
out good wine, and keep always thick and close that 
beautiful hedge with which he has environed this 
vineyard, and may he make the angels its immortal 

Adieu, my dear child, the bell urges me ; I am going 
to the wine-press of the Church, to the holy altar, 
where distils perpetually the sacred wine of the blood 
of those delicious and unique grapes which our holy 
Abbess, as a heavenly vine, has happily brought forth 
for us. There, and you know I cannot do otherwise, 
I will present and represent you to the Father, in tht 

280 6V. Francis de Sales. 

union of his Son, in whom, for whom, and by whom 
I am solely and entirely your, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

On troubles of spirit. 

jth March j 1608. 
At last I write to you, by Monsieur Fabre, my dear 
child, and still without full leisure, for I have had to 
write many letters, and though you are the last to 
whom I write, I have no fear of forgetting. I was 
sorry, the other day, to have written you so many 
things on this trouble of mind which you had. For 
since it was nothing in real truth, and since when you 
had communicated it to Father Gentil, it all vanished, 
I had only to say Deo Gratias. But, you see, my 
soul is liable to outpourings with you, and with all 
those whom I love. O God ! my child, what good 
your hurts do me ! For then I pray with more atten- 
tion, I put myself before our Lord with more purity 
of intention, I place myself more wholly in indifference. 
But, believe me, either I am the most deluded man 
in the world, or our resolutions are from God and 
unto his greater glory. No, my child, look not either 
to left or right ; and I do not mean look not at all, 
but look not so as to occupy yourself, to examine 
anxiously, to hamper and entangle your spirit in con- 

Various Letters. 2 8 1 

sideraticms from which you can find no outlet. For 
if, after so much time, after so many petitions to 
God, we cannot resolve without difficulty, how can we 
expect by considerations, some coming without any 
reflection, others from simple feelings and taste, how 
can we expect, I say, to decide well ? So then, let 
us leave that alone, let us speak of it no more. Let 
us speak of a general rule that I want to give you : 
it is, that in all I say to you, you must not be too 
particular : all is meant in a large sense (grosso modo), 
for I would not have you constrain your spirit to any- 
thing, save to serve God well, and not to abandon, 
but to love our resolutions. As for me, I so love 
mine, that whatever I see seems to me insufficient to 
take away an ounce of the esteem I have of them, even 
though I see and consider others more excellent and 
more exalted. 

Ah ! my dear child, that also is an entanglement 
which you write to me about by Monsieur de Sauzea. 
This dreadful din .... which makes you afraid of 
. . . . O God, my child, can you not prostrate your- 
self before God when it happens to you, and say to 
him quite simply : Yes, Lord, if you will it, I will 
it, and if you wish it not, I wish it not : and then 
pass on to some little exercise or act which may serve 
as a distraction. 

But, my child, what you do is this : when this 
trifling matter presents itself, your mind is grieved, 
and does not want to look at it : it fears that this may 
check it ; this fear draws away the strength of your 

282 St. Francis de Sales. 

mind, and leaves the poor thing faint, sad, and trem- 
bling ; this fear displeases it, and brings forth another 
fear lest this first fear, and the fright which it gives, 
be the cause of the evil; and so you entangle your- 
self. You fear the fear ; then you fear the fear of 
the fear ; you are vexed at the vexation, and then you 
are vexed for being vexed at the vexation. So I have 
seen many, who, having got angry, are afterwards 
angry for getting angry : and all this is like to the 
rings which are made in water, when a stone is thrown 
in : a little circle is formed, and this forms a greater, 
and this last another. 

What remedy is there, my dear child ? After the 
grace of God, the remedy is not to be so delicate. 
Look you (here is another pouring- out of my spirit, 
but there is no help for it), those who cannot suffer 
the itching of a ciron* and expect to get rid of it 
by dint of scratching, flay their hands. Laugh at 
the greater part of these troubles; do not stop to 
think about throwing them off; laugh at them; turn 
away to some action ; try to sleep well. Imagine, I 
mean think, that you are a little St, John, who is 
going to sleep and rest on the bosom of our Lord, in 
the arms of his providence. 

And courage, my child, we have no intention ex- 
cept for the glory of God ; no, no, at least certainly 
not any known intention ; for if we knew it, we would 
instantly tear it from our heart. And so, what do 

* Ciron, a little insect ; here, apparently, under the skin of the 
hand. Cotgrave gives hand-worm. 

Various Letters. 283 

we torment ourselves about ? Vive Jesus ! I think 
sometimes, my child, that we are full of Jesus : at 
least we have no deliberate contrary will. It is not 
in a spirit of arrogance I say this, my child ; it is in 
a spirit of trust and to encourage ourselves. I find 
it is nine o'clock of the night ; I must make my colla- 
tion, and I must say Office so as to be able to preach at 
eight to-morrow, but I seem to be unable to tear myself 
from this paper. And now I must tell you, in addi- 
tion, this little folly, it is that I preach finely to my 
liking in this place ; I say something, I scarce know 
what it is, which these good people understand so 
well that they would willingly almost answer me. 
Adieu, my child, my dearest child. I am, how truly, 
your, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

We must work with courage at our salvation and perfection, 
whether in consolations or in tribulations. — What abjection 
is ; its difference from humility. — Action which parents 
should take with regard to the vocation of their children. 
— Advice on temptations. — God wishes to he loved rather 
than feared. 

6th August, 1606. 

May God assist me, my dearest daughter, to answer 
properly your letter of the 9th July. I greatly desire 
to do so ; but I foresee clearly I shall not have leisure 

284 St. Francis de Sales, 

enough to arrange my thoughts ; it will be much if I 
can express them. 

You are right, my child, speak with me frankly, 
as with me, that is with a soul which God, of his 
sovereign authority, has made all yours. 

You begin to put your hand to the work a little, 
you tell me. Ah ! my God, what a great consolation 
for me ! Do this always ; always put hand to work a 
little ; spin every day some little, either in the day, 
by the light of interior influences and brightness, or 
in the night, by the light of the lamp, in helplessness 
and sterility. 

The Wise Man praises the valiant woman because : 
Her fingers have taken hold of the spindle* I 
willingly say to you something on this word. Your 
distaff is the heap of your desires ; spin each day a 
little, draw out your plans into execution and you will 
certainly do well. But beware of eager haste ; for 
you would twist your thread into knots, and stop your 
spindle. Let us always be moving ; how slowly so- 
ever we advance, we shall make plenty of way. 

Your helplessnesses hurt you much, for, say you, 
they keep you from entering into yourself and 
approaching God. This is wrong, without doubt; 
God leaves them in us for his glory and our great 
benefit. He wants our misery to be the throne of his 
mercy, and our power lessness the seat of his all-power. 
Where did God place the Divine strength which he 
gave to Samson but in his hair, the weakest place in 
* Prov. xxxi. 19. 

Variotis Letters. 285 

him ? Let me no more hear these words from a 
daughter who would serve her God according to his 
Divine pleasure, and not according to sensible taste and 
attraction. Although he should kill me, says Job, 
yet will I trust in him* No, my child, these help- 
lessnesses do not hinder you from entering into 
yourself, though they do hinder you from taking 
complacency in yourself. 

We are always wanting this and that ; and, though 
we may have our sweet Jesus on our breast, we are 
not content ; yet this is all we can desire. One thing 
is necessary for us, which is to be with him. 

Tell me, my dear child, you know well that at the 
birth of our Lord the shepherds heard the angelic and 
divine hymns of those heavenly spirits, — the Scrip- 
ture says so; yet it is not said that our Lady and 
St. Joseph, who were the closest to the child, heard the 
voice of the angels, or saw that miraculous light ; on 
the contrary, instead of hearing these angels sing they 
heard the child weep, and saw, by a little light 
borrowed from some wretched lamp, the eyes of this 
Divine child all filled with tears, and faint under the 
rigour of the cold. Well, I ask you, in good sooth, 
would you not have chosen to be in the stable, dark 
and filled with the cries of the little baby, rather than 
to be with the shepherds, thrilling with joy and 
delight in the sweetness of this heavenly music, and 
the beauty of this admirable light ? 

Lord, said St. Peter, it is good for us to be here,f 
* Job xiii. 15. f Mat. xvii. 4. 

286 St. Francis de Sales. 

to see the Transfiguration ; and this is the day on 
which it is celebrated in the Church, the 6th August ; 
but your Abbess (the Blessed Virgin) is not there, but 
only on Mount Calvary, where she sees nought but 
the dead, but nails, thorns, helplessness, darkness, 
abandonment, and dereliction. 

I have said enough, my child, and more than I 
wished, on a subject already so much discussed 
between us : no more, I beg you. Love God cru- 
cified amid darkness ; stay near him ; say ; 1/ is good 
for me to be here : let us make here three tabernacles, 
one to our Lord, another to our Lady, the other to 
St. John. Three crosses, and no more; take your 
stand by that of the Son, or that of the Mother, your 
Abbess, or that of the disciple ; everywhere you will 
be well received with the other daughters of your 
order, who are there all round about. 

Love your abjection. But, you will say, what does 
this mean, love your abjection ? for my understanding 
is dark, and powerless for any good. Well, my child, 
that is just the thing, if you remain humble, tranquil, 
gentle, confiding amid this darkness and powerlessness ; 
if you do not grow impatient, do not excite yourself, 
do not distress yourself, on this account ; but with 
good heart, I do not say gaily, but I do say sincerely 
and firmly, embrace this cross, and stay in this dark- 
ness, then you love your own abjection. 

My child, in Latin, abjection is called humility 
and humility abjection, so that when our Lady says : 
Because he hath had regard to the humility of his 

Various Letters, 287 

handmaid* she means, because he hath had regard to 
my abjection and vileness. Still there is some differ- 
ence between humility and abjection, in that humility 
is the acknowledgment of one's abjection. Now the 
highest point of humility is not only to know one's 
abjection, but to love it ; and it is this to which I. 
have exhorted you. 

In order that I may make myself better understood, 
know that amongst the evils that we suffer, there are 
evils abject, and evils honourable ; many accept the 
honourable ones, few the abject. 

Example : look at that Capuchin, in rags, and 
starved with cold ; everybody honours his torn habit, 
and has compassion on his suffering ; look at a poor 
artisan, a poor scholar, a poor widow, who is in the 
same state; they are laughed at, and their poverty is 

A religious suffers patiently a rebuke from his 
superior, everybody calls this mortification and obe- 
dience : a gentleman will suffer such for the love of 
God, it will be called cowardice ; here is an abject 
virtue, suffering despised. One man has a cancer on 
his arm, another on his face : the one hides it, and 
only has the evil; the other cannot hide it, and with 
the evil he has the contempt and abjection. Now, I 
am saying that we must love not only the evil, but 
also the abjection. 

Further, there are abject virtues and honourable 
virtues. Ordinarily patience, gentleness, mortifica- 
* Luke i. 48. 

288 St. Francis de Sales. 

tion, simplicity, are, among seculars, abject virtues : 
to give alms, to be courteous, to be prudent, are 
honourable virtues. 

Of the actions of one same virtue some may be 
abject, others honourable. To give alms and to 
pardon injuries, are actions of charity; the first is 
honourable, and the other is abject in the eyes of the 

I am ill among people who make it a burden to them : 
here is an abjection joined with the evil. Young married 
ladies of the world, seeing me in the fashion of a true 
widow, say that I act the devote, and seeing me laugh, 
though modestly, they say that I still wish to be 
sought after; they cannot believe but that I want 
more honour and rank than I have, that I do not love 
my vocation without regret : all these are points of 
abjection. Here are some of another kind. 

We go, my sisters and I, to visit the sick; my 
sisters send me off to visit the more miserable ; this is 
an abjection, according to the world ; they send me to 
visit the less miserable, this is an abjection, according 
to God ; for the latter is the less worthy before God, 
and the other before the world. Now, I will love the 
one and the other as the occasion comes. Going to 
the more miserable, I will say it is quite true 
that I am worthless. Going to the less miserable : 
it is very right, for I do not desire to make the holier 

I commit some folly, it makes me abject, good; 
I slip down, and get into a violent passion ; I am 

Various Letters. 289 

grieved at the offence to God, and very glad that this 
should show me vile, abject and wretched. 

At the same time, my child, take good heed of 
what I am going to say to you. Although we may 
love the abjection which follows from the evil, still 
we must not neglect to remedy the evil. I will do 
what I can not to have the cancer in the face ; but if 
I have it, I will love the abjection of it. And in 
matter of sin again, we must keep to this rule. I 
have committed some fault ; I am grieved at it, though 
I embrace with good heart the abjection which follows 
therefrom ; and if one could be separated from the 
other, I would dearly cherish the abjection, and would 
take away the evil and sin. 

Again, we must have regard to charity, which 
requires sometimes that we remove the abjection for 
the edification of our neighbour ; but in that case, we 
must take it away from the eyes of our neighbour, 
who would take scandal at it, but not from our own 
heart, which is edified by it. / have chosen, says the 
prophet, to be abject in the house of God, rather than 
to dwell in the tents of sinners* 

In fine, my child, you want to know which are the 
best abjections. I will tell you that they are those 
which we have not chosen, and which are less agree- 
able to us ; or, to say better, those to which we have 
not much inclination; or, to speak out, those of our 
vocation and profession. 

How, for example, would this married woman choose 

* Ps. lxxxiii. 12. 


290 5/. Francis de Sales. 

every sort of abjections rather than those of the married 
state ; this religious obey anybody but her superior ; 
and I — how I would suffer rather to be domineered 
over by a superior in religion, than by a father-in-law 
at home.* 

I say that to each one his own abjection is the best, 
and our choosing takes fromus a great part of our virtues. 
Who will grant me the grace greatly to love our abjec- 
tion, my dear child? Only he, who so loved his that 
he willed to die to preserve it. I have said enough. 

Finding yourself absorbed in the hope and idea of 
entering religion, you are afraid of having gone 
against obedience ; yet no, I had not told you to have 
no hope and no thought of it, but simply not to 
occupy yourself with it ; for it is a certain thing that 
there is nothing which so much hinders us from 
perfecting ourselves in our profession as to aspire to 
another; for instead of working in the field where we 
are, we send our oxen with the plough into our 
neighbour's field, where, however, we shall not be able 
to make harvest this year. All this is a loss of time : 
and it is impossible that keeping our thoughts and our 
hopes in another place, we should properly strengthen 
our heart to acquire the virtues required in the place 
where we are. No, my child, never did Jacob love 
Lia properly so long as he wanted Rachel. Cherish 
this maxim, for it is very true. 

But, look, I do not say that we may not think and 

* Madame de Chantal lived with her father-in-law, and had 
much to suffer from his ways and humours. 

Various Letters. 291 

hope ; but I say that we must not occupy ourselves with 
it, or employ much of our thoughts therein. We are 
allowed to look towards the place we want to get to, 
but on condition we always look straight in front 
of us. Trust me, the Israelites could never sing 
in Babylon, because they were thinking of their 
country; and for my part, I wish that we should 
sing everywhere. 

But you ask me to tell you whether I do not think 
that one day you may quit, entirely and for ever, 
everything of this world for our God ; and you ask 
me not to hide from you, but to leave you this dear 
hope. O sweet Jesus ! what shall I say to you, my 
dear child ? His all-goodness knows that I have very 
often thought on this subject, and that I have 
implored his grace in the holy sacrifice and elsewhere, 
and not only that, but I have employed in it the 
devotion and the prayers of better people than I am. 
And what have I learnt up to this ? That one day, 
my daughter, you are to quit all, that is, (for I want 
you to understand just what I mean) I have learnt 
that I am one day to counsel you to quit all. I say 
all: but whether this shall be to enter religion, is a great 
matter ; I have not yet arrived at a conclusion on this, 
I am still in doubt, and see nothing before my eyes 
which persuades me to desire it. Understand properly, 
for the love of God : I do not say no, but I say that 
my spirit has not yet been able to find ground for 
saying yes. I will beseech our Lord more and more, 
that he may give me more light on this subject, that 

u 2 

292 St. Francis de Sales. 

I may be able clearly to see the yes, if it is more for 
his glory, or the no, if it is more to his good pleasure. 

And let me tell you that in this inquiry I have in 
such way placed myself in the indifference of my own 
will to seek the will of God, that never have I done 
it so perfectly ; and still the yes has never been able 
to stay in my heart, so that up to now I could not 
say it or pronounce it : and the no, on the contrary, 
has always been there with a great deal of steadfastness. 

But because this point is of great importance, and 
there is nothing which urges us, give me yet some 
leisure and time to pray more, and get prayers for 
this intention, and further, I must, before forming my 
resolution, talk to you at leisure; this will be next 
year, God aiding ; and after all this, I would still not 
wish you, in this point, to take a fall resolution on 
my opinion, unless you have a great tranquillity and 
interior correspondence in it. I will detail it to you 
at full length, when the time comes ; and if it does 
not give you interior repose, we will take the advice 
of some one else, to whom God will perhaps more 
clearly communicate his good pleasure. 

I do not see that it is necessary to hurry, and 
meantime you can yourself think about it, without 
making it an occupation, or losing time about it. 
Although, as I said, up to now the idea (avis) of 
seeing you in religion has not been able to take its 
place in my mind, yet I am not entirely resolved 
about it, and if I were quite resolved, still I should 
not like to oppose or prefer my opinion, either to 

Various Letters. 293 

your inclinations, if they were strong in this particular 
subject (for everywhere else I will keep my word to 
you to conduct you according to my judgment and 
not according to your desire,) or to the counsel of 
some spiritual person which we might take. 

Remain, my child, quite resigned in the hands of 
our Lord : give him the rest of your years, and 
beseech him to employ them in the kind of life that 
will be most agreeable to him. Do not preoccupy 
your mind with vain promises of tranquillity, of self- 
satisfaction, of merit; but present your heart to 
your spouse, quite empty of all affections except his 
chaste love ; and beg him to fill it purely and simply 
with the movements, desires and wills which are in his, 
that your heart, like a mother-pearl, may conceive 
nothing save the dew of heaven, and not waters of 
this world ; and you will see that God will aid you 
and that we shall do well both in the choice and in 
the execution. 

As to our little ones, I approve that you should 
prepare a place for them in monasteries, provided that 
God prepares in their heart a place for a monastery : 
that is, I approve that you should have them brought 
up in monasteries, with the intention of leaving them 
there, on two conditions ; the one, that the monasteries 
be good and reformed, and make profession of the 
interior life : the other, that when the time of their 
profession arrives, which is not before sixteen years, it 
be faithfully ascertained if they are willing to make it 
with devotion and good-will ; for if they have not an 

294 «5V- Francis de Sales. 

affection for it, it would be a great sacrilege to enclose 
them in it. 

We see how hard young persons received against 
their will find it to accommodate themselves and 
devote themselves to the religious life. They ought 
to be placed there with gentle and sweet inspirations. 
If they stay there so, they will be very happy ; and 
their mother also, for having planted them in the 
gardens of the spouse, who will water them with a 
hundred thousand heavenly graces. Make then this 
arrangement for them ; I am quite of this opinion. 

But as to our Aimee, # inasmuch as she wishes to 
stay in the whirlwind and tempest of the world, you 
must, without doubt, with a care a hundred times 
greater, make her safe in true virtue and piety; 
you must furnish her barque much more completely 
with all the gear required against the wind and the 
storm ; you must plant deeply in her mind the true 
fear of God, and bring her up in the holiest practices 
of devotion. 

And as for our C. B.,t I am sure that Monseigneur 
his uncle, will have more care in the education of his 
little soul than in that of his exterior. If it were 
another uncle, I would tell you to keep the care of 
him yourself, that the treasure of innocence may not 
be lost. And do not fail to instil into his spirit 
gracious and sweet odours of devotion, and often to 

* The eldest daughter. 

f Celse-Benigne, the son. The uncle is Monseigneur Fremiot, 
Archbishop of Bourges. 

Various Letters. 295 

recommend to his uncle the feeding of his soul. God 
will do with him as he pleases, and to this men must 
accommodate themselves. 

I can say no more to you concerning the apprehen- 
sion you have of your trouble, nor the fear you have 
of impatiences in suffering it. Did I not say to you, 
the first time I spoke to you of your soul, that you 
applied your consideration too much to any trouble or 
temptation that may arise ; that you must look at it 
only in a large way ; that women, and men also, some- 
times, make too much reflection on their troubles ; 
and that this entangles thoughts and fears, and desires, 
in one another, till the soul finds itself so much 
embarrassed that it cannot get free from them? 

Do you remember M. N., how his soul was en- 
tangled and mazed with vain fears at the end of the 
Lent, and how hurtful it was to him ? I beseech you 
for the honour of God, my child, be not afraid of God, 
for he does not wish to do you any harm : love him 
strongly, for he wishes to do you much good. Walk 
quite simply in the shelter of our resolutions, and re- 
ject as cruel temptations the reflections which you 
make on your troubles. 

What can I say to stop this flow of thoughts in 
your heart ? Do not give way to anxiety about heal- 
ing it, for this anxiety makes it worse. Do not force 
yourself to conquer your temptations, for these efforts 
will strengthen them ; despise them, do not occupy 
yourself with them. Represent to your imagination 
Jesus Christ crucified, in your arms and on your breast, 

296 St. Francis de Sales. 

and say a hundred times, kissing his side ; here is my 
hope, here is the living fountain of my happiness, 
this is the heart of my soul, the soul of my heart : 
never shall anything separate me from his love ; I 
hold him, and -will not let him go, till he has put me 
in a state of safety. Say to him often : What have I 
upon earth, and what do I desire in heaven, but you, 
O my Jesus ? You are the God of my heart and my 
portion for ever.* Why do you fear, my child ? Hear 
our Lord, who cries to Abraham, and to you also : 
Fear not, I am thy helper. f "What do you seek upon 
earth, save God ? and you have him. Remain firm 
in your resolution. Keep yourself in the barque 
where I have placed you, and the storm may come ; 
as Jesus lives you shall not perish : he will sleep, 
but in time and place he will awake to restore calm 
to you. Our St. Peter, says the Scripture, seeing 
the storm, which was very fierce, was afraid ; and as 
soon as ever he became afraid, he began to sink and 
drown, at which he cried : O Lord, save me. X And 
our Lord took him by the hand, and said to him : 
Man of little faith, why didst thou doubt ? Regard 
this holy Apostle, he walks dry foot on the waters ; 
the waves and the wind could not make him sink, 
but the fear of the wind and the waves makes him 
perish if his master rescue him not. 

Fear is a greater evil than the evil itself. O 
daughter of little faith, what do you fear ? No, fear 
not ; you walk on the sea, amid the winds and the 

* Ps. lxxii. 25. \ Gen. xv. 1. + Matt. viii. 25. 

Various Letters. 297 

waves, but it is with Jesus. What is there to fear? 
But if fear seizes you, cry loudly : Lord, save me. 
He will give you his haud : clasp it tight, and go 
joyously on. In short, do not philosophize about 
your trouble, do not turn in upon yourself, go straight 
on. No, God could not lose you, so long as you live 
iu your resolution not to lose him. Let the world 
turn upside down, let everything be in darkness, in 
smoke, in uproar, — God is with us ; and if God 
dwelleth in darkness, and on the Mount of Sinai, all 
smoking, and covered with the thunders, with lightnings 
and noises, shall we not be well near him ? 

I must tell you a word about myself, for you love 
me as yourself. We have had these fifteen days a 
very great jubilee, which will be throughout the 
world, on the commencement of the Pope's* admini- 
stration, and the war of Hungary. This has kept me 
occupied, though consoled by receiving many general 
confessions and changes of conscience ; then there is 
the sea of my ordinary occupations, amid which, 
(I say it to you) I live in full repose of heart, resolved 
to employ myself henceforth faithfully and earnestly 
for the glory of my God, first in myself, and then in 
all that is under ray charge. My people begin to 
love me tenderly, and this consoles me. 

All your friends in this part are well, and honour 
you with quite a special love. 

Live, live, my dear child, live all in God, and fear 
not death, the good Jesus is all ours; let us be 
* Paul V. 

298 St. Francis de Sales. 

entirely his. Our most honoured Lady, our Abbess, 
has given him to us ; let us keep him well ; courage, 
my child. I am entirely yours, and more than yours. 

To the Same. 

Advantage of interior trials for perfection. — God communicates 
himself in afflictions rather than in consolations. 

Exaltation of the Cross, September 14th, 1606. 

Do not distress yourself about me in all these matters 
you write of; for, you see, it is with me as it was once 
with Abraham. A deep sleep fell upon him in a dark 
mist, in some fearful place, and a great and darksome 
horror seized upon Mm ;* but it was only for a short 
time, for suddenly he saw a lamp of fire, and heard the 
voice of God promising his benedictions. My spirit 
certainly lives amid your darknesses and temptations, 
for it closely accompanies yours ; the account of your 
troubles touches me with compassion; but I clearly 
see that the end of them will be happy, since our good 
God is advancing us in his school, in which you are 
more on the alert than at another time. Only write 
to me with open heart about your ills and your goods ; 
and put yourself in no anxiety, for my heart is equal 
to all. 

Courage, my dear child, let us keep on, keep on, all 

* Gen. xv. 12, 17. 

Various Letters. 299 

through these low valleys ; let us live with the cross 
in our arms, with humility and patience. 

What does it matter whether God speaks to us 
amid thorns or amid flowers. Indeed, I do not 
remember that he has ever spoken amid flowers, 
though several times in deserts and thorny bushes. 
Go on then, my dear child, and make progress during 
this bad weather and this night. Above all, write very 
sincerely to me : this is the great command — to speak 
to me with open heart, for on this depends all the 
rest. Shut your eyes to any feeling you might have 
about my peace, which, believe me, I shall never lose 
through you, as long as I see your heart firm in its 
desire to serve God, and never, never, please God, 
shall I see you otherwise; so give yourself no trouble 
about that. 

Be brave, my dear child, we shall get on, with 
God's help, and believe me this weather is better for 
a journey than if the sun were melting us with its 
burning heats. I saw the bees, the other day, staying 
quietly in their hives, because the air was foggy : they 
went out now and then to see how the weather was 
getting on, but they did not hasten out, occupying 
themselves with feeding on their honey. O God ! 
courage : light is not under our control, nor any 
consolation save what depends on our own will. But 
so long as this is under the shelter of the holy resolu- 
tions we have made, and the grand seal of the heavenly 
Chancery is on your heart, there is nothing to fear. 

I will tell you two words about myself. For some 

300 St. Francis de Sales. 

days I was half-ill. A day's rest has cured me; I 
have a good heart, thank God, and hope to make it 
still better, as you wish. 

My God ! with what consolation do I read the 
words in which you say that you wish my soul per- 
fection almost more than your own. That is a true 
spiritual daughter ! But let your imagination fly as 
far as it likes, it will never get as far as my will 
carries me in wishing you the love of God. 

The bearer starts at once ; and I must go to make 
an exhortation to our Penitent s-of-the-crucifix. I can 
say no more except a blessing ; I give it you then in 
the name of Jesus Christ crucified. May his cross be 
our glory and our consolation, my dear child ! May 
it be lifted up among us, and planted on our head, as 
it was on that of the first Adam ! May it fill our 
heart and our soul, as it filled the soul of St. Paul, 
who knew nothing else. Courage, my child, God is 
for us, Amen. I am all yours, immortally ; and God 
knows it, who has willed it so, and has effected it; 
with his own sovereign and personal hand. 


To the Same. 

On the Love of God. 

Anneey, February nth, 1607. 
I have been ten entire weeks without having a particle 
of news of you, my dear, my very dear, child, and 

Various Letters. 301 

your last letters were at the beginning of November ; 
but the chief thing is that my fine patience almost 
disappeared from my heart, and I think would have 
disappeared altogether, if I had not remembered that 
I must keep it, in order to preach it to others. But 
at last, my dearest child, yesterday comes a packet, 
like a fleet from the Indies, rich in letters and spiritual 
songs. Oh ! how welcome it was, and how I cherished 
it ! There was one of the 22nd November, another 
of 30th December, and the third of the 1st January 
of this year; but if all the letters I have written you 
during this time were in one packet, they would be in 
far greater number, for as far as possible I have always 
written, both by Lyons and by Dijon : be this said to 
discharge my conscience, which would hold itself for 
ever guilty, did it not respond to the heart of a daughter 
so uniquely loved. I am going to tell you many things 
in a desultory fashion, according to the subject of your 
letters. My God ! how rightly you act by depositing 
your desire to leave the world in the hands of divine 
Providence, that it may not uselessly engage your soul, 
as it indubitably would do if you let it act and move 
at its fancy. I will think very much about it, and will 
offer many masses to obtain the light of the Holy Spirit 
to decide about it properly, for, look you, my dear 
child, this is a principal affair, and must be tested by 
the weights of the sanctuary. Let us pray God, let 
us beg his will to make itself known, let us dispose 
ours to wish nothing but by his and for his, and let us 
remain at rest without eagerness or agitation of heart. 

302 St Francis de Sales. 

At our first meeting, God will, if he please, be mer- 
ciful to us j but why then, my dear child, I beg you, 
should I put off your Saint-Claude journey? If there 
are no other inconveniences than those which now 
appear, I think there is no cause to put it off. 

As to the journey I want to make yonder, what 
trouble to prepare it, and what risk to make it ! But 
God who sees my intention will arrange it by his good- 
ness, and we will talk of it before the time arrives. 
And about my little sister also; she went to Dijon 
with the good M. de Cressay, who would not too soon 
confide her to Madam Brulart, for fear she would make 
her a Carmelite. 

I write now that she may be taken to you imme- 
diately after Easter ; but write to me whether I shall 
send to meet you at Montelon or at Dijon, and if you 
will take this little one to Dijon ; or if I shall have her 
taken to Dijon, and you take her to Montelon, or how? 
Come then for the Thursday before Pentecost, and go to 
Besancon, by all means, to see the holy Winding Sheet ; 
all that is quite to my taste; you will see there Cor- 
delier nuns of the 3rd Order, who are much praised. 
And perhaps an abbess of another order, who is four 
leagues from there, namely, at Baume, .... who is 
very virtuous, of one of the first families of my diocese, 
and who loves me singularly. Meantime our little 
Frances will accompany you, or you will leave her, 
according to your desire and the counsel of the good 
Father de Villars. This little Frances I love, because 
she is your little one and your Frances. 

Various Letters. 303 

Well now, believe me, my child, I have been think- 
ing for more than three months that I would write and 
tell you to give up your hoop this Lent. Do so, then, 
as God inspires it ; you will not cease to look gay 
enough without it in the eyes of your spouse and your 

We must, after the example of our St. Bernard, be 
quite clean and neat; but not particular or dainty. 
True simplicity is always good and agreeable to God. 
I see that all the seasons of the year meet in your 
soul, that sometimes you feel the winter, on the 
morrow drynesses, distractions, disgust, troubles, and 
wearinesses, sometimes the dews of May, with the 
perfume of holy flowrets, sometimes the ardours of 
desire to please our good God. There remains only 
autumn, of whose fruit, as you say, you do not see 
much; still it often happens that in threshing the 
corn, and pressing the grapes, there is found more 
than the harvest or vintage promised. You would like 
all to be spring and summer, but no, my dear child, 
there must be change in the interior, as in the exterior. 
It is in heaven that all will be spring as to beauty, 
autumn as to enjoyment, and summer as to love. 
There will be no winter, but here winter is wanted 
for abnegation and a thousand little virtues which are 
exercised in time of sterility. Let us always walk our 
little step ; if we have a good and resolute affection 
we can never go otherwise than well. No, my dearest 
child, it is not needed for exercise of virtues that we 
should ever keep actually attentive to all. That would 

304 St. Francis de Sales. 

certainly too much entangle and hamper your thoughts 
and affections. Humility and charity are the main- 
stays, all the other ropes are attached to them. It 
needs only to keep ourselves well in these virtues ; oue 
the lowest, the other the highest, as the preservation 
of the whole edifice depends on the foundation and 
the roof. Keeping the heart closely to the exercise 
of these, there is no great difficulty in getting the 
others. These are the mothers of the virtues, which 
follow them as little chickens their mother hens. 

Oh ! indeed I greatly approve your being school- 
mistress. God will be pleased, for he loves little 
children, and as I said at catechism the other day to 
induce our ladies to take care of the girls, the angels 
of little children love with a special love those who 
bring up children in the fear of God, and who instil 
into their tender hearts true devotion, as on the con- 
trary our Lord threatens those who scandalize them 
with the vengeance of their angels. 

See, then, how well we are getting on. If you are 
not at Dijon for Lent, no matter. You will not cease 
to be near our good God, to hear him and serve him, 
in the very service of your father, to whom I owe so 
much honour and respect for the favour he does me in 
loving me. I praise God that you were willing to 
have your lawsuit arranged since my return. I have 
been so pressed and urged to make appointments that 
my room has been quite full of clients, who, by the 
grace of God, mostly returned in peace and repose. 
I confess that this dissipated my time, but there is no 

Various Letters. 305 

help for it ; we must yield to the necessity of our 

How consoled am I with the cure of this good 
person hitherto attached to profane love or false friend- 
ship. These are maladies which are like light fevers ; 
they leave after them excellent health. I am now 
going to speak to our Lord of our affairs at the altar, 
then I will write the rest. No, you will not go 
against obedience in not lifting your heart so often to 
God, and not practising perfectly the counsel I have 
given you. It is good and fit counsel, but no com- 
mand. In a command, words are used which make 
themselves well understood ; do you know what coun- 
sels require ? They require us not to despise them, 
and to love them. That is quite enough, but they do 
not lay under any obligation. Courage, my sister, 
my child, make your heart very fervent this holy 
Lent. I have charged the bearer, who is M. Davre, 
my vicar general, to send you this as soon as he 
arrives, that you may have leisure to send him back 
your answer, as he will be at Dijon eight whole days. 

I have not yet been able to revise the life of our 
good villager to complete it ; but that you may know 
all I know, I may tell you that when I can get a 
quarter of an hour of spare time, I am writing an 
admirable life of a saint"* of whom you have not yet 
heard tell, and I pray you also not to say a word of 
it ; but it is an affair of time, and one I should not 
have dared to undertake if some of my most confiden- 
# The Saint doubtless refers to the " Love of God." 

306 St. Francis de Sales. 

tial friends had not urged me to it ; you shall see a 
good pieee of it when you come. I shall be able to 
join that of our good villager to it, in some little 
corner, for it will be at least twice as large- as the 
great life of Mother (St.) Teresa ; but as I say, I want 
nothing to be known of it until it is quite done, and 
I am only beginning it. It is to recreate myself, and 
to twirl, like you, my distaff. 

I have received your hymns, which I like much, 
for though they are not of such good rhyme as many 
others, they are of good sentiments. And if I am not 
prevented I will have them sung at my catechism. And 
in exchange I send you this book, in which you will see 
many beautiful things, which were in part made from 
my first sermons by M. the President of this town, a 
man of rare virtue and a true Christian. 

What more shall I tell you ? I have just come 
from giving catechism where we have had a bit of 
merriment (debauche) with our children, making the 
congregation laugh a little by mocking at balls and 
masks, for I was in my best humour, and a great 
audience encouraged me with its applause to play the 
child with the children. They tell me it suits me 
well, and I believe it. May God make me a true 
child in innocence and simplicity; but am I not also a 
true simple (one) to say that to you ? I can't help it, I 
make you see my heart as it is, and in the variety of 
its movements, that, as the Apostles say, you may 
think no more of me than is in me. Live joyful and 
courageous, my dear child. You must have no doubt 

Various Letters. 307 

that Jesus Christ is ours ; yes, said once to rne a little 
girl, he is more mine than I am his, and more than I 
am my own. 

I am going to take him for a little while into my 
arms, this sweet Jesus, to carry him in the processiou 
of the confraternity of the Lord, and I will say to 
him, the Nunc Ditnittis, with Simeon; for of a truth, 
if he is with me, I care not whither I go. I will 
speak to him of your heart, and believe me, with all 
my power, I will beg him to make you his dear, his 
well-beloved servant. Ah ! my God ! how am I in- 
debted to this Saviour, who so loves us, and how would 
I, once for all, press and glue him on my breast. 

I mean also on yours, as he has willed that we 
should be so inseparably all in him. Adieu, my most 
cherished, and truly most dear sister and daughter. 

May Jesus ever be in our hearts, may he live and 
reign there eternally ; may his holy name, and that of 
his glorious Mother, be ever blessed ! Amen. 

I am ever the servant of Monsieur, your father-in- 

To a Lady. 

Sign of good prayer. Advice on this exercise and on the choice of 
books of piety ; on Paschal Confession and Communion. 

November, 1607. 
Madam, my very dear Sister, — I am surprised you 
receive so few of my letters. I think I leave none 

x % 

308 .57. Francis de Sales. 

of yours without some answer. However, God be 

Do not torment yourself about your prayer, which 
you say is without words ; for it is good, if it leaves 
good effects in your heart. Do not force yourself to 
speak in this divine love ; he speaks enough who looks 
and is seen. Follow, then, the path into which the 
Holy Ghost draws you, though I do not wish you to 
give up preparing yourself for meditation, as you used 
to do at the beginning. This you owe on your side, 
and you should of yourself take no other way ; but 
when you intend to put yourself in it, if God draws 
you into another, go with him into it; we must on 
our side make a preparation according to our measure, 
and when God carries us higher, to him alone be the 
glory of it. 

You can profitably read the books of Mother (St.) 
Teresa, and St. Catherine of Sienna, the Method of 
serving God, the Abridgment of Christian Perfection, 
the Gospel Pearl, but do not be eager in the practice 
of all you see there that is beautiful ; go quite gently, 
aspiring after these beautiful teachings, and admir- 
ing them very highly, and remember that there is no 
call for one to eat a feast prepared for many. Thou 
hast found honey, says the wise Man, eat what is sufficient 
for thee* The Method, Perfection, Pearl, are books 
which are very obscure, and go by the mountain tops ; 
we must hardly occupy ourselves with them. Read 

* Prov. xsv. 1 6. 

Various Letters. 309 

and read again the Spiritual Combat, this should be 
your dear book, it is clear and entirely practical. 

No, my dear child, since you confess to good con- 
fessors, have no fear ; for if they had not the power 
to hear you, they would send you away. And so, it 
is not at all necessary to make in your own parish 
those general confessions about which you write ; it is 
enough to make your Easter duty there, by con- 
fessing, or at least communicating. If you are in 
the country, the priest whom you find in the parishes 
can also confess you. Let yourself not be oppressed 
by scruples, nor by too many desires : go on calmly 
and courageously. May God ever be your heart, my 
dear sister, and I am in him your, &c. 

To a Lady. 

We must always keep our soul in repose before God. 

My dearest Mother, — As you have told me that my 
letters always consoled you much, I wish to lose no 
occasion of letting you have them to testify in some 
way the desire I have to be useful to your soul, — to 
your soul, I say, which I cherish extremely. 

Keep it always seated and at rest before God 
during exterior works, and standing up and moving 
about during interior; as the bees, who do not fly 
about in their hives or while doing their house-work, 

3 1 o St. Francis de Sales. 

but only when they go out. While we are at our 
affairs, we must aim at quiet of heart, and at keeping 
our soul tranquil for prayer; if it wants to fly, let it 
fly ; if to bestir itself, let it do so, though then also 
tranquillity and simple repose of the soul in seeing 
God, in willing God, and in relishing God, is very 

When I begin to write to you I do not think what 
I shall write, but having begun I write what comes 
to me, provided that it be something of God ; for I 
know that all is agreeable to you ; having much 
strengthened during the last journey the entire con- 
fidence which my heart had in yours. I saw clearly, 
methinks, that you had complete trust in me. 

I am writing to that good D. N., who writes to ask 
me to advise her about her future life; which I find 
hard, having scarcely seen her spirit, and mine being 
too common and trivial to consider a singular life 
like hers : all the same I tell her simply what I think. 
May God keep you in his holy protection, a3id load 
you with his graces. 

To a Lady. 

We must bear our own infirmities with patience. God acts in 
different ways towards his servants. Advice on drynesses in 
prayer. The will of God. 

Madam, — Your letter of the 20th January has given me 
an extreme satisfaction, because in the midst of your 

Various Letters. 3 1 1 

miseries which you describe to me, I remark (I think) 
some progress and profit which you have made in the 
spiritual life. I shall be briefer in answering you 
than I could wish, because I have less leisure, and 
more hindrance than I expected. I will however say 
quite enough for this time, awaiting another chance 
of writing to you at full length. 

You say then that you are afflicted because you 
do not discover yourself to me perfectly enough, as 
you think ; and I say to you that though I do not 
know what you do in my absence, for I am no prophet, 
I think all the same, that for the little time I have 
seen and heard you, it is not possible to know your 
inclinations and their sources better than I do, and I 
fancy you have few folds into which I do not penetrate 
quite easily : and however little you open to me the 
door of your spirit, I seem to see in quite openly : it 
is a great advantage for you, since you wish to use 
me for your salvation. 

You complain that many imperfections and defects 
occur in your life, in opposition to the desire you 
have of the perfection and purity of love for our God. 
I answer you that we cannot quit ourselves altogether 
while we are here below ; we must always bear 
ourselves until God bears us to heaven ; and as long 
as we bear ourselves we shall bear nothing of any 
worth. So we must have patience, and not expect to 
be able to cure ourselves in a day of so many bad 
habits, which we have contracted, by the little care 
we have had of our spiritual health. 

312 St. Francis de Sales. 

God has cured some suddenly, without leaving any 
trace of their former maladies, as he did in the case of 
Magdalen, who in an instant, from a sink of the water 
of corruption was changed into a spring of the water 
of perfections, and was never muddied from that 
moment. But also has this same God left in some of 
his dear disciples many marks of their bad inclinations, 
for some time after their conversion, and all for their 
greater profit; witness the blessed St. Peter, who 
after his first calling stumbled several times into 
imperfections, and once fell down altogether, and very 
miserably, by his denial. 

Solomon says that the handmaid who suddenly 
becomes mistress is a very insolent animal.^ There 
would be great danger that the soul which had long- 
served its own passions might become proud and vain, 
if in a moment she became entirely mistress of them. 
It needs that little by little, and foot by foot, we 
obtain this dominion, which has cost the saints many 
decades of years. It needs if you please, to have 
patience with all the world, but first with yourself. 

You do nothing, you say, in prayer. But what 
would you do, except what you do, which is to present 
and represent to God your nothingness and your 
misery ? 

It is the best harangue beggars make us when they 
expose to our sight their ulcers and needs. 

But sometimes again you do nothing of all this, as 
you tell me, but remain there like a phantom or a 
* Prov. xxx. 23- 

Various Letters. 3 1 3 

statue. Well, and that is not a little thing. In the 
palaces of princes and kings, statues are put which 
are only of use to gratify the prince's eyes ; be satis- 
fied then with serving for that purpose, in the pre- 
sence of God ; he will give life to this statue when he 

The trees only fructify through the presence of the 
sun, some sooner, others later, some every year, and 
others every three years, and not always equally. We 
are very happy to be able to stay in the presence of 
God, and let us be satisfied that he will make us bear 
our fruit, sooner or later, always, or sometimes, ac- 
cording to his good pleasure, to which we must entirely 
resign ourselves. 

The word which you said to me contains wonders : 
let God put me in what sauce he likes provided that 
I serve him. But take care to masticate it again and 
again in your spirit ; make it melt in your mouth and 
do not swallow it in a lump. Mother (St.) Teresa, 
whom you so love (for which I am glad), says some- 
where that very often we say such words by habit, 
and with a slight attention. We think we say them 
from the bottom of our soul, but it is not so at all, 
as we discover afterwards in practice. 

Well ! you say that in whatever sauce God puts 
you it is all one. Now you know well in what sauce 
he has put you, in what state and condition ; and tell 
me is it all one ? You know also that he wants you 
to satisfy this daily obligation of which you write to 
me, and yet it is not all one to you. My God ! how 

3 1 4 St- Francis de Sales. 

subtly self-love insinuates itself into our affections, 
however devout they seem and appear. 

This is the grand truth ; we must look at what 
God wants, and when we know it we must try to do 
it gaily, or at least courageously ; and not only that, 
but we must love this will of God, and the obligation 
which comes from it, were it to keep pigs all our life, 
and to do the most abject things in the world ; for in 
what sauce God puts us it should be all one : it is 
the bull's-eye of perfection at which we must all aim ; 
and he who gets nearest gets the prize. 

But courage, I beseech you; accustom your will 
little by little to follow that of God, whithersoever 
it leads you. Make your will very sensitive to the 
voice of conscience saying : God wills it; and little' 
by little these repugnances which you feel so strongly 
will grow weaker, and soon will cease altogether. But 
particularly you ought to struggle to hinder the ex- 
terior manifestations of the interior repugnance you 
have, or at least to make them gentler. Among those 
who are angry or discontented some show their dis- 
pleasure only by saying : My God, what is this ? 
And others say words which show more irritation and 
not only a simple discontent, but a certain pride and 
spleen ; what I mean to say is that we must little by 
little amend these demonstrations, making them less 
every day. 

As to the desire you have to see your friends very 
far advanced in the service of God and the desire of 
Christian perfection, I praise it infinitely, and as you 

Various Letters. 3 1 5 

wish I will add my weak prayers to the supplications 
you make ahout it to God. But, madame, I must tell 
you the truth ; I ever fear in these desires which are 
not of the essence of our salvation and perfection, that 
there may mingle some suspicion of self-love and our 
own will. For instance, I fear that we may so much 
occupy ourselves in these desires which are not neces- 
sary to us, as not to leave room enough in our soul 
for desires which are more necessary and useful, as 
of our own humility, resignation, sweetness of heart, 
and the like : or again that we may have so much 
ardour in these desires as to make them bring us dis- 
quiet and eagerness, or in fine, I fear that we may 
not submit them so perfectly to the will of God as is 

Such things do I fear in such desires ; whence 1 
pray you to take good care of yourself that you fall 
not into them, as also to pursue this desire quietly 
and sweetly, that is, without importuning those whom 
you want to persuade to this perfection, and even 
without showing your desire ; for, believe me, this 
would throw back the affair instead of advancing it. 
You must then by example and words sow amongst 
them quite quietly things which may induce them to 
your design ; and, without making appearance of wish- 
ing to instruct or gain them, you must throw little 
by little holy inspirations and thoughts into their 
minds. Thus will you gain much more than in any 
other way, above all if you add prayer. 

3 1 6 6V. Francis de Sales. 

To a Lady. 

Piety must he solid. We must be faithful to it everywhere and in 
everything without failing \ 

Madam, — I praise God with all my heart, seeing in 
jour letter the great courage you have to conquer 
your difficulties in order to be truly and holily de- 
vout in your vocation. Do so, and expect from God 
great blessings j more, without doubt, in one hour of 
such a devotion, well and justly regulated, than in a 
hundred days of a devotion, odd, eccentric, melancholy, 
and springing from your own brain. Keep firm in this 
course, and let nothing shake you in this resolution. 

You have, you tell me, a little relaxed from your 
exercise in the country. Well ! we must stretch the 
bow again, and recommence with proportionately more 
care : but another time the country must not cause 
you this loss ; no, for God is there as well as in the 

You have now my little writing about meditation, 
practise it in peace and repose. Pardon me, my dear 
lady, if I cut my letter a little shorter than you would 
wish ; for this good man Rose holds me so by the 
collar to make me despatch him, that he does not 
give me leisure to be able to write. 

I pray our Lord to give you a singular assistance 
in his Holy Spirit, that you may serve him with heart 
and mind according to his good pleasure. Pray to 

Various Letters. 3 1 7 

him for me, for I need it, and never do I forget you 
in my weak prayers. 

If your husband does not hold me for his servant 
he is very wrong ; for I am such very assuredly, and 
of all who belong to you, God be ever with you and 
in vour heart. Amen. 


To a Lady. 

We must labour to perfect ourselves in our state. Advice on 
Confession and Communion. 

Madam my dear Sister, — The confidence you have in 
me gives me continual consolation, and still I am 
grieved not to be able to correspond so well by letter 
as I would wish : but our Lord, who loves you, 
makes up by the great helps you have there. 

I approve that in prayer you keep yourself still a 
little to method, preparing your mind by studying 
and disposing points, though without further use of 
the imagination than is necessary to concentrate the 

I know well, indeed, that when by good hap we find 
God, it is good to occupy ourselves in looking at him, 
and to rest in him ; but, my dear daughter, to expect 
always to find him thus unsought and without pre- 
paration, I do not think that this is yet good for us, 
who are still novices, and who have need rather to 

3 1 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

consider the virtues of the Crucifix one after the other 
and in detail than to admire them wholesale and 

But if, after having applied our spirit to this 
humble preparation, God still gives us no sweetnesses 
and savours, then we must keep patiently eating our 
bread dry, and pay our duty without present reward. 

I am consoled to know the chance you have 
of confessing to the good father Gentil. I know 
him well by reputation, and know what a good and 
careful servant he is of our Lord ; you will then do 
well to continue your confessions to him, and to take 
the good counsels he will give you according to your 

I would not wish you, madam, to train your 
daughter to so frequent communion, unless she is 
able properly to understand what this frequent com- 
munion is. To discern communion from other par- 
ticipations is different from discerning between 
frequent communion and rare communion. If this 
little soul fully discerns that to frequent holy com- 
munion she must have great purity and fervour, and 
if she aspires after these and is careful to cultivate 
them, in that case I consider that she may be let 
approach often, that is, every fortnight. But if she 
has ardour only for communion, and not for the 
mortification of the little imperfections of youth, 
I think it would suffice to let her confess every week, 
and communicate once a month. My dear child, I 
think communion is the great means for attaining 

Variotts Letters. 319 

perfection, but it must be received with the desire and 
the care to take away from the heart all that dis- 
pleases him whom we wish to lodge there. 

Persevere in thoroughly conquering yourself in 
these small daily contradictions you receive ; make 
the bulk of your desires about this ; know that God 
wishes nothing from you at present but that. Busy 
not yourself then in doing anything else : do not sow 
your desires in another's garden > but cultivate well 
your own. Do not desire not to be what you are, but 
desire to be very well what you are ; occupy your 
thoughts in making that perfect, and in bearing the 
crosses, little or great, which you will meet. And, 
believe me, this is the great truth, and the least 
understood in spiritual conduct. 

Every one loves according to his taste ; few love 
according to their duty and the taste of our Lord. 
What is the use of building castles in Spain, when we 
have to live in France ? It is my old lesson, and you 
know it well ; tell me, my dear child, if you practise 
it well. 

I pray you, regulate your exercises, and have in 
them a great regard for the inclinations of your head. 
Laugh at those frivolous attacks whereby your enemy 
represents to you the world as if you were to return 
to it ; laugh at them, I say, as nonsense ; there must 
be no answer to them, but that of our Saviour : Get 
thee behind me, Satan! Thou shall not tempt the Lord 
thy God* My dear child, we are in the way of the 

* Matt. iv. 

320 St. Francis de Sales. 

saints, let us walk courageously, in spite of the 
difficulties which are therein. 

I think I have satisfied all you want to know from 
me, who have no stronger desire than to serve you 
faithfully in this point. 

I should much desire to see you ; but it was not 
convenient that I should will it. God will perhaps 
dispose some means more proper for this : yes, I pray 
him, if it is for his glory, for which I will to 
will all. 

May he ever live and reign in our souls ! I am, 
madam, my dearest daughter and sister, your, &c. 

To one of his Relatives. 

He wishes her the Love of God. 

Madam my dear Cousin, — I cannot, and would not, 
refrain from writing to you, having so safe a bearer. 
But it is only to tell you that I ask continually in 
Holy Mass many graces for your soul, but chiefly and 
as everything, divine love ; for, indeed, it is our all ; 
it is our honey, my dear cousin, within which and by 
which all the affections and actions of our hearts must 
be preserved and sweetened. 

My God, how happy is the interior kingdom, when 
this holy love reigns therein ! How blest are the 

Various Letters. 321 

powers of our soul which obey a king so holy and so 
wise ! No, my dear cousin, under his obedience and 
in this state, he allows not great sins to dwell, nor 
even any affection for the very least. It is true that 
he lets the frontiers be approached, in order to 
practise the interior virtues in war, and to make them 
valiant ; and he allows spies, which are venial sins and 
imperfections, to run here and there in his kingdom ; 
but it is only to make known that without him 
we should be a prey to all our enemies. 

Let us greatly humble ourselves, my dear cousin, 
my daughter; let us confess that unless God be 
cuirass and buckler to us, we shall be instantly 
pierced and transpierced with all sorts of sins. There- 
fore let us keep ourselves close to God, by the con- 
tinuance of our exercises ; let this be the main point 
of our carefulness, and the rest accessories. 

Meantime, we must ever have courage, and if some 
weakness or enfeeblement of spirit occurs, let us run 
to the foot of the cross, and place ourselves amid 
those holy odours, those heavenly perfumes, and 
without doubt we shall be comforted and invigorated 
by them. I present every day your heart to the 
eternal Father with that of his Son, our Saviour, in 
the Holy Mass. He cannot refuse it, on account of 
that union in virtue of which I make the offer ; but 
I take for granted that you do as much on your 
side. May we ever, with soul, with heart, and with 
body, be to him a sacrifice and holocaust of praise. 
Live joyous and brave, with Jesus on your breast. 


322 St. Francis de Sales. 

Madame, my dearest cousin, I am one whom he 
has made your, &c. 


To the Same. 

The Saint exhorts her to be faithful to God. 

Madam my very dear Cousin, — Rightly do you find 
God good, and relish his paternal solicitude in your 
regard, in that, as you are now in a place where you 
cannot get time to exercise yourself in meditation, 
he gives himself more frequently to your heart, to 
strengthen it with his sacred presence. Be faithful 
to this divine spouse of your soul; and more and 
more you will see that by a thousand means he will 
make clear to you his dear love towards you. 

I am not then amazed, my dear cousin, if God, 
giving you the taste of his presence little by little, 
disgusts you with the world. There is no doubt, my 
daughter, that nothing makes one think colocynth so 
bitter as eating honey. When we come to relish 
divine things, it will be impossible for the earthly 
again to give us appetite. And could we, after having 
considered the goodness, the stability, the eternity of 
God, love this miserable vanity of the world ? We 
must indeed support and tolerate this vanity of the 
world ; but we must love and affect only the truth of 
our good God, and may he be ever blessed for leading 
us to this holy contempt of earthly follies. 

Various Letters. 323 

Alas ! It is true, madame my dear cousin, the 
poor Madame de Moiron is dead : we should not have 
expected it last Lent. And truly we all shall die 
some future day, we know not which. My God ! 
dear daughter, shall we not be blessed if we die with 
our gentle Saviour in the midst of our heart? So 
then, we must always hold fast to this, continuing our 
exercises, our desires, our resolutions, our protesta- 
tions. It is a thousand times better to die with our 
Lord than to live without him. 

Let us live gaily in him and for him, and let us 
not frighten ourselves about death; I do not say let 
us not fear it at all, but I say let us not disturb 
ourselves. If the death of our Lord is gracious 
(propice) to us, ours will be good for us. Wherefore 
let us often think on his : let us greatly cherish his 
cross and his passion. 

You say right, my well beloved daughter, — when 
we see our friends die, let us mourn them a little, let 
us regret them a little, with compassion and tenderness, 
but with tranquillity and patience ; and let us profit 
of their translation to prepare ourselves quickly and 
joyously for ours. 

I have praised God for that this poor deceased had 
given herself, I think, a little more to devotion this 
last year ; for it is a great sign of the mercy of God 
on her. It is just a year since she entered into our 
confraternity, which has well done its duty to her. 

Y 2 

324 6Y. Francis de Sales, 


To one of his Sisters. 

To avoid eagerness in devotion, and tojjractise mortifications 
which come of themselves. 

20th July, 1607. 

Madam my dearest Sister, — It is impossible for me to 

restrain myself from writing to you at all opportunities 

which present themselves. Do not worry yourself; 

no, believe me, practise serving our Lord with a 

gentleness full of strength and zeal : that is the true 

method of this service. Wish not to do all, but only 

something, and without doubt you will do much. 

Practise the mortifications which oftenest present 

themselves to you ; for this is the thing we must do 

first ; after that we will do others. Often kiss in 

spirit the crosses which our Lord has himself placed 

on your shoulders. Do not look whether they are of 

a precious or fragrant wood ; they are truer crosses, 

when they are of vile, abject, worthless wood. It is 

remarkable that this always comes back to my mind, 

and that I know only this song. Without doubt, my 

dear sister, it is the canticle of the Lamb : it is a little 

sad, but it is harmonious and beautiful. My father, 

be it not as I will but as thou wilt* 

Magdalen seeks our Lord while she has him : she 

demands him from himself. Wherefore she is not 

content to see him thus, and seeks him to find him 

* Matt. xxvi. 39. 

Various Letters. 325 

otherwise : she wanted to see him in his glorious 
dress, and not in a gardener's vile dress ; but still at 
last she knew it was he, when he said : Mary. 

Look now, my dear sister, my child, it is our Lord 
in gardener's dress that you meet here and there 
every day in the occasions of ordinary mortifications, 
which present themselves to you. You would like 
him to offer you other and finer mortifications. O 
God, the finest are not the best. Do you not think 
he says Mary, Mary 1 No : before you see him in his 
glory, he wishes to plant in your garden maDy flowers, 
little and lowly, but to his liking : that is why he is 
dressed so. May our hearts be ever united to his 
and our wills to his good pleasure. I am, without end 
and without measure, my dear sister, your, &c. 

Have good courage, be not afraid, only let us oe 
God's, for Go'd is ours. Amen. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

It is a great happiness to keep ourselves humble at the 
foot of the cross. 

Rumilly, 20th March, 1608. 
My dear Child, — Let us keep ourselves, I beseech you, 
quite at the very bottom of the cross; too happy if 
some drop of this balm which distils on all sides, fall 
into our heart, and if we can gather some of these 


326 St. Francis de Sales. 

tiny blades of grass which grow round about. Oh ! 
I should like, my dearest daughter, to entertain you 
a little with the grandeur of this blessed saint (St. 
Joseph), whom our soul loves, because he has fostered 
the love of our heart and the heart of our love, — 
taking these words : Lord, do good to the good and up- 
right of heart* O true God, I say, how good and 
right of heart must this saint have been, since our 
Lord did him so much good, giving him the Mother 
and the Son ? For, having these two pledges, he might 
cause envy in the angels, and challenge all heaven 
together to have more good than he ; for what is there 
among the angels to compare with the queen of angels, 
and in God beyond God? 

Good night, my all dear child, I beg this great saint, 
who has so often fondled our Lord, and so often cradled 
him, to give you the interior caresses which are required 
for the advancement of your love towards this Redeemer, 
and abundance of interior peace, giving you a thousand 
blessings. Vive Jesus, Vive Marie, and also this great 
St. Joseph who has so cherished our life. 

Adieu, my child ; the widow of Nairn calls me to 
the funeral of her dear son.t It is not on such a 
subject that I fail to think on what you write me 
about your son. God's let us be without end, without 
reserve, without measure ! Jesus be our crown ! Mary 
be our honey ! I am, in the name of the Son and of 
the Mother, your, &c. 

* Ps. cxxiv. 4. 
f Alluding to the Gospel for Thursday, fourth week of Lent. 

Various Letters. 327 


To the Same. 

On the repose of our hearts in the Will of God. 

The Eve of the glorious St. Nicholas, $th December, 1608. 

My dearest Child, — Since my return from the visita- 
tion, I have had some symptoms of feverish catarrh. 
Our doctor would not prescribe me any remedy but 
rest, and I have obeyed him. You know, my daughter, 
that this is also the remedy I willingly prescribe — 
tranquillity, and that I always forbid eagerness. 
Wherefore, in this corporal rest, I have been thinking 
of the spiritual rest which our souls should have in 
the will of God, or which this will brings us ; but it 
is impossible to develop the considerations which this 
requires without a little quite real and honest leisure. 

Let us live, my dear daughter, let us live as long as 
God pleases in this vale of tears, with a complete sub- 
mission to his sovereign will. Ah ! how indebted are 
we to his goodness, which has made us desire with such 
resolution to live and die in his love ! Without doubt, 
we desire it, my child, we are resolved upon it : let us 
hope further that this great Saviour, who gives us the 
will, will give us also the grace to perfect it* 

I was thinking the other day of what some authors 
say about the halcyons — little birds which build on the 
sea-shore. They make nests quite round, and so com- 
pact that the water cannot penetrate them at all; and 
* Phil. ii. 13. 

328 St. Francis de Sales. 

only at the top is a little hole by which they can get 
air and breathe. Within, they place their little ones, so 
that if the sea surprise them, they may float in safety 
on the waves without filling or sinking ; and the air 
which enters by the little hole serves as counterpoise, 
and so balances these little balls and little boats, that 
they are never overturned. 

O my child ! how I wish our hearts to be thus, well 
compressed, well felted in on all sides ; that if the tem- 
pests and storms of the world fall on them these may 
not penetrate them ; and they must have an opening 
only on the side of heaven, to breathe to our Lord ! 
And this nest, for whom should it be made, my dear 
child ? For the little brood of him who makes it for 
God's love, for divine and heavenly affections. 

But whilst the halcyons build their nests, and their 
little ones are still too tender to support properly the 
shocks of the waves, ah ! God has care of them, and is 
pitiful to them, hindering the sea from carrying them 
off and seizing them. O God, my daughter, and so 
this sovereign mercy will secure the nest of our hearts 
for his holy love, against all the assaults of the world, 
or he will save us from being attacked. Ah ! how I 
love these birds which are surrounded by waters and 
live only on air, who hide themselves in the sea and 
see only the sky ! They swim as fish and sing as birds ; 
and what pleases me more is that the anchor is cast 
above and not below, to steady them against the waves. 
O my sister, my daughter ! may the sweet Jesus deign 
to make us such that, surrounded by the world and 

Various Letters. 329 

the flesh, we may live by the spirit ; that amid the 
vanities of the world we may always live in heaven ; 
that living with men we may praise him with the 
angels, and that the assurance of our hopes may be 
always above, and in Paradise ! 

O my child, my heart was obliged to cast this 
thought on this paper, throwing its wishes at the feet of 
the crucifix, that in all and everywhere the holy divine 
love may be our great love. Alas ! but when will it 
consume us ? And when will it consume our life, to 
make us die to ourselves, and to make us live again to 
our Saviour ? To him alone be for ever honour, glory, 
and benediction. My God, dear child, what am I 
writing to you? O my child, since our invariable 
purpose and resolution tends unceasingly to the love 
of God, never are the words of the love of God inop- 
portune for us. Adieu, my child ; yes, I say my true 
child in him whose holy love makes me bound, yea 
consecrated to be, to live, to die, and to rise again for 
ever yours, and all yours : Vive Jesus ! Vive Jesus, et 
Nolre-Dame! Amen. 

To a Lady. 

We must hate our faults with tranquillity, and not uselessly 
desire what w>e cannot have. 

20th January, 1609. 
Madam, — No doubt you would explain yourself much 
better and more freely by word of mouth than by 

33° St* Francis de Sales. 

writing j but, while waiting for God to will it, we must 
use the means which offer themselves. You see, the 
lethargies, languors, and numbness of the senses cannot 
be without some sort of sensible sadness, but so long as 
your will and the substance of your spirit is quite re- 
solved to be all to God, there is nothing to fear : for 
they are natural imperfections, and rather maladies 
than sins or spiritual faults. Still you must stir your- 
self up and excite yourself to courage and spiritual 
activity as far as possible. 

Oh ! this death is terrible, my dear daughter, 'tis 
very true, but the life which is beyond, and which the 
mercy of God will give us, is also very desirable in- 
deed ; and so we must by no means fall into distrust.. 
Though we are miserable, we are not nearly so much 
so as God is merciful to those who want to love him, 
and who have placed their hopes in him. When the 
blessed Cardinal Borromeo was on the point of death, 
he had the image of our dead Saviour brought, in 
order to sweeten his death by that of his Saviour. It 
is the best of all remedies against the fear of our death, 
this thought of him who is our life, and never to think 
of the one without adding the thought of the other. 

My God ! dear daughter, do not examine whether 
what you do is little or much, good or ill, provided it is 
not sin, and that in good faith you will to do it for God. 
As much as you can, do perfectly what you do, but when 
it is done, think of it no more ; rather think of what 
is to be done quite simply in the way of God, and do 
not torment your spirit. We must hate our faults, 

Various Letters. 331 

but with a tranquil and quiet hate, not with an angry 
and restless hate ; and so we must have patience when 
we see them, and draw from them a profit of a holy- 
abasement of ourselves. Without this, my child, 
your imperfections which you see subtly, trouble you 
by getting still more subtle, and by this means sustain 
themselves, as there is nothing which more preserves 
our weeds than disquietude and eagerness in removing 

To be dissatisfied and fret about the world, when we 
must of necessity be in it, is a great temptation. The 
Providence of God is wiser than we. We fancy that 
by changing our ships, we shall get on better; yes, if 
we change ourselves. My God, I am sworn enemy of 
these useless, dangerous, and bad desires : for though 
what we desire is good, the desire is bad, because God 
does not will us this sort of good, but another, in 
which he wants us to exercise ourselves. God wishes 
to speak to us in the thorns and the bush, as he did to 
Moses; and we want him to speak in the small wind, 
gentle and fresh, as he did to Elias. May his good- 
ness preserve you, my daughter ; but be constant 
courageous, and rejoice that he gives you the will to 
be all his. I am, in this goodness, very completely 
your, &c. 

33 2 St* Francis de Sales. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

The difference between putting and keeping ourselves in the 
presence of God. 

1 6th January, 1610. 
My dearest Child, — Your manner of prayer is good : 
only be very careful to remain near God in this gentle 
and quiet attention of heart, and in this sweet slumber 
in the arms of his holy will; for all this is agreeable 
to him. 

Avoid violent application of the understanding, 
because it hurts you, not only in other matters, but 
even in prayer, and work round about your dear 
object with your affections quite simply, and as gently 
as ever you can. It cannot be but that the under- 
standing will make some dartings (elancements) to 
bring itself in ; and you must not busy yourself to 
keep on your guard against it, for that would form a 
distraction ; but when you perceive it, be satisfied 
with returning to the simple act of the will. 

To keep ourselves in the presence of God, and to 
place ourselves in the presence of God, are, in my 
opinion, two things : for, to place ourselves there it is 
necessary to recall our minds from every other object, 
and to make it attentive to this presence actually, as I 
say in the book ;* but after placing ourselves, we keep 
ourselves there so long as we make, either by under- 

* Introduction, ii. 2. 

Various Letters. 333 

standing or by will, acts towards God, whether by- 
looking at him, or looking at some other thing for 
love of him ; or looking at nothing, but speaking to 
him; or, neither looking nor speaking, but simply- 
staying where he has put us, like a statue in its niche. 
And when there is added to this simple staying some 
feeling that we belong all to God, and that he is 
our all, we must indeed give thanks to his goodness. 
If a statue which had been placed in a niche in 
some room could speak, and was asked : — why are 
you there ? it would say : — -because the statuary, my 
master, has put me here. Why don/t you move ? 
Because he wants me to remain immovable. What 
use are you there, what do you gain by being so ? It 
is not for my profit that I am here, it is to serve and 
obey my master. But you do not see him. No, but 
he sees me, and takes pleasure in seeing me where he 
has put me. But would you not like to have move- 
ment, to go nearer to him ? Certainly not, except 
when he might command me. Don't you want any- 
thing, then ? No ; for I am where my master has 
placed me, and his good-pleasure is the unique con- 
tentment of my being. 

My God ! daughter, what a good prayer it is, and 
good way to keep in the presence of God, to keep our- 
selves in his will and in his good pleasure ! I think 
that Magdalen was a statue in her niche, when withr 
out speaking a word, without moving, and perhaps 
without looking at him, she listened to what our Lord 
said, seated at his feet ; when he spoke she heard ; 

334 Sti Francis de Sales. 

when he paused from speaking, she ceased to listen, 
and still stayed ever there. 

A little child which is on the bosom of its sleeping 
mother is truly in its good and desirable place, though 
it says no word to her nor she to it. 

My God ! how glad I am, my child, to speak a little 
of these things with you ! How happy we are when we 
will to love our Lord ! Let us, then, love him well, 
let us not set ourselves to consider too exactly what we 
do for his love, provided we know that we will to do 
nothing but for his love. For my part, I think we keep 
ourselves in the presence of God even while sleeping : 
for we go to sleep in his sight, by his will, and at his 
pleasure ; and he puts us there like statues in a niche ; 
and when we wake we find that he is there near us, 
he has not moved any more than we : we have then 
kept in his presence, but with our eyes shut and closed. 

Now I am wanted : good night, my dear sister, my 
child, you will have news of me as often as possible. 

Be sure the first word I wrote you was very true, 
that God had given me to you : the assurance of it 
becomes every day stronger in my soul. May this 
great God be for ever our all. I salute my dear little 
daughter, my sister, and all the household. Keep 
firm, dear child ; doubt not; God holds you with his 
hand, and will never leave you. Glory be to him for 
ever and ever ! Amen. 

Vive Jesus, and his most holy mother ! Amen ! and 
praised be the good father, St. Joseph ! God bless you 
with a thousand benedictions ! 

Various Letters. $35 


To the Wife of President de Herce. 

He consoles her under the motions of the passions which she felt, 
and which alarmed her. — Nature is not indifferent to sufferings 
in this life : our Lord in his Passion an example of this. — 
Remedy for the outbut*sts of self-love. 

An?iecy, *jth July, 1610. 
Madame, — God, our Saviour, knows well that among 
the affections he has placed in my soul, that of cherish- 
ing you extremely and honouring you most perfectly, 
is one of the strongest, and entirely invariable, ex- 
empt from change and from forgetfulness. Well, now, 
this protestation being made very religiously, I will 
say this little word of liberty and candour, and will 
begin again to call you by the cordial name of my 
dearest daughter, since in truth I feel that I am cor- 
dially your father by affection. 

My dearest daughter, then, I have not written to 
you ; but tell me, I pray, have you written to me 
since my return into this country? All the same, 
you have not forgotten me ; Oh ! certainly, neither 
have I you ; for I say to you with all fidelity and cer- 
tainty, that what God wants me to be to you that I 
am, and I quite feel that I shall be such for ever, 
most constantly and most thoroughly, and I have in 
this a very singular satisfaction, accompanied with 
much consolation and profit for my soul. 

I was waiting for you to write, not from thinking 

3 $6 St. Francis de Sales. 

you should, but not doubting that you would, and then 
I could write more at large. But if you had waited 
longer, believe me, my very dear daughter, I could 
have waited no longer ; any more than I can ever leave 
out your very dear self and all your dear family in 
the offering which I make daily to God the Father on 
the altar, where you hold, in the commemoration 
which I make of the living, a quite special rank ; and 
indeed you are quite specially dear to me. 

Oh ! I see, my dearest child, in your letter, a great 
reason to bless God for a soul which keeps holy in- 
difference in fact, though not in feelings. My dearest 
child, all this you tell me of your little faults is 
nothing. These little surprises of the passions are 
inevitable in this mortal life. On this account does 
the holy apostle cry to heaven : Alas / miserable man 
that I am ! I perceive two men in me, the old and the 
new ; two laws, the law of the flesh, and the law of the 
spirit ; two operations, nature and grace. Ah ! who 
shall deliver me from the body of this death £* 

My daughter, self-love dies only with our body, we 
must always feel its open attacks or its secret attempts 
while we are in this exile. It is enough that we do 
not consent with a willed, deliberate, fixed, and enter- 
tained consent; and this virtue of indifference is so 
excellent, that our old man, in the sensible part, and 
human nature according to its natural faculties, were 
not capable of it. Even our Lord, who as a child of 
Adam (though exempt from all sin and all the appear- 
* Eom. vii. 

Various Letters. 337 

ances thereof;) was, in his sensible part; and his human 
faculties, by no means indifferent, but desired not to 
die on the cross ; the indifference was all reserved, 
with its exercise, to the spirit, to the superior portion, 
to the faculties inflamed by grace, and in general to 
himself as being the new man. 

So then, remain in peace. When we happen to 
break the laws of indifference in indifferent things, or 
by the sudden sallies of self-love and our passions, let 
us prostrate at once, as soon as we can, our heart 
before God, and say, in a spirit of confidence and 
humility, Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak* 
Let us arise in peace and tranquillity, and knot again 
the thread of our indifference, and then continue our 
work. We must not break the strings nor throw up 
the lute when we find a discord ; we must bend our 
ear to find whence the disorder comes, and gently 
tighten or relax the string as the evil requires. 

Be in peace, my dearest child, and write to me in 
confidence when you think it will be for your conso- 
lation. I will answer faithfully and with a particular 
pleasure, your soul being dear to me, like my own. 

We have had these past eight days our good Mon- 
seigneur de Belley, who has favoured us with his visit 
and has given us some most excellent sermons. Guess 
if we have often spoken of you and yours ! But what 
joy when M. Jantet told me that my dearest little god- 
son was so nice, so gentle, so handsome, and even 
already in some sense so devout. I assure you, in 
* Ps. vi. 3. 


338 67. Francis de Sales. 

truth, my dearest daughter, that I feel this with an 
incomparable love, and I recollect the grace and sweet 
little look with which he received, as with infantine 
respect, the- sonship of our Lord from my hands. If 
I am heard, he will be a saint, this dear little Francis ; 
he will be the consolation of his father and mother, 
and will have so many sacred favours from God, that 
he will obtain me pardon of my sins, if I live till he 
can love me actually. In fine, my dearest daughter, 
I am very perfectly, and without any condition or ex- 
ception, your, &c. 

P.S. — If you fear the loss of your letters on the way, 
although letters are scarcely ever lost, you may as well 
not sign your name, for I shall always recognize your 

Shall I dare to beg you to give my very humble 
affections and my service to Madam the Marchioness 
de Menelay ? She is humble enough to be satisfied 
with this, and the little Francis good enough to per- 
suade her to it, and Madame de Chenoyse. Also, I 
must salute Madame de la Haye. 

To a Lady. 

Human respect is blameworthy in matters of religion. Advice 
on interior drynesses. 

$th August, 161 1. 

I have no sooner seen your dear husband than I have 
learnt his departure from this town. This has been 

Various Letters. 339 

the cause, my clearest daughter, that I have not been 
able to give him this letter, by which I intend to 
answer, though in haste as usual, the last letter I 
have had from you. 

Without doubt, my dearest daughter, we must not, 
another time, alter anything of the general practices 
by which we profess our holy religion on account of 
the presence of these troublesome Huguenots, and 
our good faith must not be ashamed to appear before 
their affectedness. We must in this walk simply and 

Still your fault is not so great that you need 
afflict yourself about it after repentance : for it was 
not committed in a matter of special command, and 
contains no denial of truth, but simply an indiscreet 
respect. To speak clearly, there was in it no mortal 
sin, nor, as I think, venial, but a simple coldness, 
arising from disturbance and irresolution. Remain 
then in peace on that score. 

My dearest daughter, you ever make too much 
consideration and examination about the cause of 
your drynesses : if they came from your faults still you 
would not have to be disquieted about them, but with 
a very simple and gentle humility to reject them, and 
then to put yourself back into the hands of our Lord, 
that he might make you bear the penalty of them or 
spare you it, as he might please. You must not be 
so curious as to want to know whence proceeds the 
diversity of the states of your life. You must be 
resigned to all that God ordains. 

z 2 

340 SL Francis de Sales. 

Well now ! here is the dear husband off, my dear 
daughter, since his position and also his fancy give 
him the desire of making a show now and then : you 
must humbly recommend his departure and his re- 
turn to our Lord, with confidence in his mercy that 
he will arrange about them unto his greater glory. 

Live sweetly, humbly and tranquilly, my dearest 
daughter, and ever be all to our Lord, whose most 
holy blessing I wish with all my heart to you and to 
your little ones, but specially to my dear good little 
godchild, who is, I am told, all sugar. Your dear 
cousin is in her vintage, and I am told she is well ; 
so is Madam de N., who I think, advances much with 
all her sisters, in the love of God. Your, &c. 


To one of his Sisters. 

The Saint recommends to her gentleness and jjeace in the troubles 
of this life. 

2,oth June, 1612. 
My dearest Sister, — My child, I am grieved not to 
have sooner received the salutation which Maitre 
Constantine had brought me from you, for I should 
have had more leisure to write to you according to 
my heart, which is full of affection for you, and 
cherishes you so warmly that it cannot be satisfied 
with entertaining you for a little time. It is one of 

Various Letters. 341 

the satisfactions of my life to know that your soul 
is completely dedicated to the love of God, towards 
which you aim, advancing little by little in all sorts 
of pious exercises. But I ever recommend to you, 
more than all, that of holy sweetness and gentleness 
in the troubles this life no doubt often causes you. 
Remaiu quiet and all loving, with Jesus Christ on 
your heart. How happy will you be, very dear sister, 
my child, if you continue to hold the hand of his 
divine majesty, amid the care and course of your 
affairs, which will succeed much more after your wish 
if God help you in them ! And the least consolation, 
which you have from him will be better than the 
greatest you can have from earth. 

Yes, my dear child, my sister, I love you, and more 
than you could credit : but principally since I have 
seen in your soul the excellent and honourable desire 
to will to love our Lord with all fidelity and sincerity. 
In this I beseech you to persevere constantly, and 
also in loving me very entirely, since I have a heart 
quite completely and faithfully, my dearest child, 
yours, &c. 


To a Lady. 

Of resignation in trials, and of Christian mildness. 

jyth August, 16 12. 
Well, what do you want me to say, my dearest 
daughter, about the return of our miseries, except 

342 St. Francis de Sales. 

that in presence of the enemy we must again take up 
arms, and courage to fight more strongly than ever? 
I see no very great things in the letter. But, my 
God ! carefully beware of entering into any sort of 
distrust : for this heavenly goodness does not let you 
fall into these faults to abandon you, but to humble 
you, and to make you hold more tightly and firmly to 
the hand of mercy. 

You please me extremely by continuing your exer- 
cises amid the interior drynesses and weakness which 
have returned upon you. For, since we only want 
to serve him for the love of himself, and since the 
service we pay him amid drynesses is more agreeable 
to him than that we give amid sweetnesses, we ought 
also to like it better, at least with our superior will ; 
and though according to our taste and self-love, sweet- 
nesses and tendernesses may be nicer, still, drynesses, 
according to the taste of God and his love, are more 
profitable. So dry meats are better for the dropsical 
than wet, though they always love the wet better. 

For your temporal means, as you have tried to put 
them right, and could not, you must now use patience 
and resignation, willingly embracing the cross which 
has fallen to your share; and as occasions arise you 
must practise the advice I have given about this. 

Remain in peace, my dearest daughter; say often 
to our Lord that you want to be what he wants you 
to be, and to suffer what he wants you to suffer. 
Resist faithfully your impatiences by exercising not 
only on all occasions, but without occasions, holy 

Various Letters. 343 

mildness and sweetness towards those who are trouble- 
some to you; and God will bless your design. Good 
night, my dearest daughter : God only be your love. 
I am in him with all my heart, your, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

Besig nation to God's Will. Cure for spiritual troubles. 

1 2th August, 16 13. 

Let us lift up our hearts, my dearest Mother : let us 
behold that of God all-loving for us ; let us adore and 
bless his will, his wishes. Let them sever, let them 
cut in us, wherever he pleases : for we are his eternally. 
You will find thai in so many bye-ways we shall still 
make progress, and that our Lord will conduct us by 
the deserts to the holy land of promise. And from 
time to time he will give us what will make us prize 
the deserts more than the fertile lands, in which the 
corn ripens in its seasons ; — but the manna falls not. 

My God ! dearest mother, when you wrote to me that 
you were a poor bee, I thought I could not wish that, 
so long as your drynesses and afflictions last ; for this 
little animal which in health is diligent and busy, 
loses heart and remains idle as soon as it gets ill. 

But then I changed my wishes, and said : Ah ! yes, 
I quite wish that that my mother may be a bee, even 
while in spiritual trouble : for this little animal has no 

344 »££ Francis de Sales. 

other cure for itself in its maladies, than to expose 
itself to the sun, and to await heat and health from 
its rays. 

O God ! my daughter, let us put ourselves thus 
before our crucified sun, and then say to him : lovely 
sun of hearts, you vivify all by the rays of your good- 
ness : behold us here half -dead before you, and we will 
not move till your heart quicken us, Lord Jesus. My 
dear child, death is life when it happens in presence 
of God. 

Lean your spirit on the stone which was represented 
by that which Jacob had under his head when he saw 
the beautiful ladder : it is the very one on which St. 
John the Evangelist reposed one day by the excess of 
the charity of his master. Jesus, who is our heart and 
the heart of our heart, will watch lovingly over you. 
Rest in peace. May God be for ever in the midst of 
your heart ! May he make it for ever more entirely his 
own! Vive Jesus. Amen, Amen. 


To a Religious. 

Different effects and signs of self-love and true charity. 

Oh ! would to God, my dearest child, that it was the 
treatise of heavenly love which kept me occupied all 
the morning ! It would soon be finished, and I should 

Various Letters. 345 

be very happy to apply my soul to such sweet con- 
sideration : but it is the infinite number of little follies, 
which the world perforce brings me every day, which 
causes me trouble and annoyance, and makes my hours 
useless ; still, so far as I can run away from them I 
ever keep putting down some little lines in favour of 
this holy love, which is the bond of our mutual love. 

Well, let us come to our letter. Self-love can be 
mortified in us, but still it never dies; indeed, from 
time to time and on different occasions, it produces 
shoots in us, which show that though cut off it is not 
rooted out. This is why we have not the consolation 
that we ought to have when we see others do well ; 
for what we do not see in ourselves is not so agreeable 
to us; and what we do see in ourselves is very sweet 
to us, because we love ourselves tenderly and amorously. 
But if we had true charity, which makes us have one 
same heart and one same soul with our neighbour, we 
should be perfectly filled with consolation when he did 

This same self-love makes us willing enough to do 
things of our own election, but not by the election of 
another, or by obedience ; we would do it as coming 
from us, but not as coming from another. It is always 
we ourselves, who seek our own will, and our own 
self-love ; on the contrary, if we had the perfection of 
the love of God, we should prefer to do what was 
commanded because it comes more from God, and less 
from us. 

As for taking more pleasure in doing hard things 

346 5V. Francis de Sales. 

ourselves than in seeing them done by others, this may 
be through charity, or because secretly self-love fears 
that others may equal or surpass us. Sometimes we 
are more distressed to see others ill-treated than our- 
selves by goodness of disposition ; sometimes because 
we think ourselves braver than them, and that we should 
support the trouble better than they, according to the 
good opinion we have of ourselves. 

The proof of this is that ordinarily we would rather 
have small troubles than let another have them ; but 
the great we wish more for others than ourselves. 
Without doubt, my dear child, the repugnance we have 
to the supposed exaltation of others comes from this, 
that we have a self-love which tells us we should do 
even better than they, and that the idea of our good 
designs promises us wonders from ourselves, and not 
so much from others. 

Besides all this, know, my very dear child, that the 
things you feel are only the dispositions of the lower 
part of your soul : for I am sure that the superior 
part disavows it all. It is the only remedy we have, 
to disavow the dispositions, invoking obedience, and 
protesting that we love it, in spite of all repugnance, 
more than our own election \ praising God for the good 
which one sees in others, and beseeching him to con- 
tinue it, and so of other ill-feelings. 

We must be in no way surprised to find self-love 
in us, for it never leaves us. It sleeps sometimes, like 
a fox, then all of a sudden leaps on the chickens ; 
wherefore we must constantly keep watch on it, and 

Various Letters. 347 

patiently and very quietly defend ourselves from it. 
But if sometimes it wounds us, we are healed by un- 
saying what it has made us say and disavowing what 
it has made us do. 

Well, I only see casually the lady who was to come 
to make her general confession, and her eyes are all 
moist after leaving her daughter : for the great of the 
world leave one another in parting. Those of God not 
so ; they are always united together with their Saviour. 
God bless you, my dear child. 

To one of his Spiritual Daughters. 

Effects of self -love very different from those of fraternal 

Early in 1616. 

When will this natural love, which rests on consan- 
guinity, on propriety, on politeness, on similarity, on 
sympathy, on amiability, — be purified, and reduced 
to the perfect obedience of the simple pure love of the 
good pleasure of God ? When will this self-love no 
longer desire exterior presence, testimonies and signs, 
but will remain fully satisfied with the invariable and 
immutable assurance that God gives it of his perpetuity. 
What can presence add to a love which God produces, 
sustains and preserves ? What marks of perseverance 

* This letter corresponds, word by word, with a part of Con- 
ference XII. 

348 St. Francis de Sales. 

can be required in a unity which God has created? 
Distance and presence will never add anything to the 
solidity of a love, which God has himself formed. 

When shall we all be steeped in gentleness and 
sweetness towards our neighbour? When shall we 
see the souls of our neighbour in the sacred bosom 
of our Saviour ? Ah ! he who sees his neighbour 
outside this, runs the risk of not loving him purely, 
nor constantly, nor equally ; but there, in that place, 
who would not love him, who would not bear with 
him? Who would not suffer his imperfections? 
Who would find him ill-favoured ? Who would find 
him tiresome ? Well, my dearest child, this neigh- 
bour is really there on the bosom and the breast of this 
amiable Saviour, and he is there so loved, and so love- 
able that the lover dies of love for him, a lover whose 
love is in his death, and death in his love. 

To a Superior of the Visitation, his Niece. 

We must serve God at his pleasure, not our own. 

12th Oct., 16 1 5. 
What is the heart of my dearest child doing, which 
mine loves in truth very perfectly ? I feel sure that 
it is always closely united to that of our Lord, and 
that it often says to him : The Lord is my light and 
my salvation, whom shall I fear • The Lord is the 

Various Letters. 349 

protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid* My 
dearest child, throw your solicitude upon the divine 
shoulders of the Lord, and he will bear us and sustain 
us.f If he calls you (and he does) to a sort of service 
which is according to his pleasure, though not to your 
taste, you must have not less courage but more, than 
if your taste agreed with his pleasure ; for when there 
is less of our own in anything it goes so much the 

You must not, my dear niece, my daughter, allow 
your spirit to look at itself, or to reflect upon its own 
strength or its own inclinations : you must fix your 
eyes on the good pleasure of God and on his Provi- 

We must not discuss (discourir) when we ought to 
run [courir) ; nor devise (deviser) difficulties, when we 
should spin them off (divider) . 

Gird your loins with strength, and fill your heart 
with courage, and then say : / will advance ; not I but 
the grace of God in me.% The grace of God, then, 
be ever with your spirit^ Amen. 

* Ps. xxvi. 1, 2. f Ps. liv. 23. 

X 1 Cor. xv, 10. § Gal. vl 18. 

35 o 6V. Francis de Sales. 

To a Lady. 

We should not refrain from speaking of God when it may be use- 
ful. It is not being a hypocrite to speak better than we act. 
Advice for a person in society. 

Annecy, 26th April, 161 7. 

I answer your letter of the 1 4th, my dearest daughter, 

i°. Tell that dear B. Marie, who loves me so much, 
and whom I love even more, to speak freely of God 
wherever she may think it will be useful, quite indif- 
ferent as to what those who hear her may think or say 
of her. In a word, I have already told her that she 
must do nothing and say nothing for the sake of! 
being praised, nor omit to say or do anything for fear 
of being praised. And it is not to be a hypocrite not 
to do as well as we speak ; for, Lord God ! where 
should we be ? I should have to be silent for fear of 
being a hypocrite, since if I spoke of perfection it 
would follow that I should think myself perfect. No, 
certainly, my dear child, I do not think myself per- 
fect when I talk of perfection, any more than 1 think 
myself an Italian when I talk Italian : but I think I 
know the language of perfection, having learned it 
from those with whom I have conversed, who spoke 

2°. Tell her she may powder her hair, since her 
intention is right; for the fancies she has about it are 
not at all to be considered. You must not entangle 

Various Letters. 35 1 

your spirit in these cobwebs. The hair of the soul 
of this daughter is even more scant than that of her 
head ; this is why she embarrasses herself. We must 
not be so punctilous, nor occupy ourselves with so 
many reflections ; this is not what our Lord wants. 
Tell her then to walk in good faith, by the middle 
path of the lovely virtues of simplicity and humility ; 
and not by the extremes of these subtleties of discus- 
sion and consideration. Let her boldly powder her 
head; for even respectable pheasants powder their 
plumage for fear of insects. # 

3 . She need not lose the sermon, or any good 
work for want of saying : make haste ; but let her say 
it gently and quietly. If she is at table, and the 
Blessed Sacrament passes, let her accompany it in 
spirit, if there are other people at table with her j if 
there is no one, she may accompany it if, without 
hurry, she can get there in time ; and then let her 
return quietly to take her refection ; for our Lord 
did not wish that even Martha should serve him with 
a troubled eagerness. 

4 . I have told her that she may speak strongly 
and decidedly when required, to keep in order the 
person she knows of ; but I have reminded her that 
strength is more effective when it is quiet, and is 

* We are unable to express in English the fineness of the 
irony, the persuasiveness of the hidden argument, or the simplicity 
of the Saint's language, " Quelle poudre hardiment sa tete ; 
car les faisans gentils poudrent bien lews pennages, de peur que 
les poux ne sy engendrent." 

3 5 2 «SV. Francis de Sales. 

allowed to spring from reason, without mixture of 

5 . The society of the twelve cannot be bad, for 
the exercise which it uses is good ; but this B. M., 
who wishes to have no perhaps, must suffer it here, 
and must let us say, that perhaps this is a good 
society ; being in no way certified by any prelate, nor 
by any person worthy of faith, we cannot be assured 
that it has been properly instituted ; the little book 
which says so, alleges neither author nor witness to 
prove it. Still, that is good which cannot harm and 
may profit. 

6°. Let her practise prayer, either by points, as we 
have said, or after her own custom, it matters little : 
but we distinctly remember telling her just to prepare 
the points, and to try at the beginning of prayer to 
relish them ; if she relish them it is a sign that at 
least for that time, God wants her to follow this 
method. If, however, the sweet customary presence 
engages her afterwards, let her entertain it; let her 
also enter into the colloquies which God himself sug- 
gests, and which, as she explains them to me in your 
letter, are good ; still she must sometimes also speak 
to this great All, so that our nothing may do the part. 
Well, as you read our books, I will add nothing, save 
to tell you to go simply, sincerely, frankly, and with 
the naivete of children, sometimes in the arms of the 
heavenly Father, sometimes holding his hand. 

I am glad that my books have found entrance into 
your soul, which was so bold as to think that it sufficed 

Various Letters. 353 

for itself ; but they are the books of that father and 
of that heart whose dear daughter you are, since it has 
so pleased God, to whom be honour and glory for 


To a Lady. 

u We must not be surprised at spiritual coldness, provided we are 
firm in our resolutions. ." — A Servant of God. 

Your coldness, my dearest daughter, must not sur- 
prise you at all, provided that you do not, on account 
of it, interrupt the course of your spiritual exercises. 

Ah ! my dearest child, tell me, was not the sweet 
Jesus born in the heart of the cold ? And why should 
he not also stay in the cold of the heart I speak of, 
that cold, of which, I think, you speak ; which consists 
not in any relaxing of our good resolutions, but simply 
in a certain lassitude and heaviness of spirit which 
makes us move with difficulty; but still we move in 
the course in which we have placed ourselves, and from 
which we will never deviate till we arrive at the port. 
Is it not so, my child ? 

I will go, if I can, for your feast, and will give you 
holy confirmation. Oh ! may I share in the spirit of 
that saint who has called you by his name from 
your baptism, and who will confirm it in your favour 
on the very day on which all the church invokes him. 

A A 

354 Si, Francis de Sales. 

I will tell you on that day one or two of those divine 
words which impressed our Saviour so deeply in the 
heart of his disciples. Meanwhile, live all for God ; 
and for his love bear with yourself and all your 

In fine, to be a good servant of God is not to be 
always consoled, always in sweetness, always without 
aversion or repugnance to good, for in that case neither 
St. Paula, nor St. Angela, nor St. Catharine of Sienna 
would have served God well. To be a servant of God 
is to be charitable to our neighbour; to have in the 
superior part of the soul an inviolable resolution to 
follow the will of God ; to have a very humble hu- 
mility and simplicity in trusting ourselves to Almighty 
God, and in getting up as often as we fall; to bear 
with ourselves in our abjections ; and quietly to bear 
with others in their imperfections. For the rest, you 
know well how my heart cherishes you ; it is, my 
dearest child, more than you could tell. May God be 
ever our ail. I am, in him, all your, &c. 


To a Lady. 

God does not give good desires without giving the means to 
accomplish them. 

The marks which I have seen in your soul of a sin- 
cere confidence in mine, and of an ardent affection for 
piety, make my heart fraternally amorous of yours. 

Various Letters. 355 

Courage then, my good child, you will see we shall 
get on ; for this dear and sweet Saviour of our souls 
has not given us these inflamed desires of serving him, 
without giving us the chance of doing so ; without 
doubt he only defers the time for accomplishing your 
desires in order to choose a more suitable one ; for 
you see, my dearest daughter, this amorous heart of 
our Redeemer measures and adapts all the events of 
this world unto the good of the souls which, without 
reserve, are willing to serve his divine love. 

This good time then which you desire will come ou 
the day which this sovereign providence has named in the 
secret of his mercy ; and then, with a thousand secret 
consolations, you will open out your interior before his 
divine goodness ; and this will convert your rocks into 
water, your serpent into a rod, and all the thorns of 
your heart into roses, and into abundant roses, which 
will recreate your spirit and mine with their sweet- 

For it is true, my daughter, that our faults, which 
while in our souls are thorns, are changed into roses 
and perfumes when voluntary accusation drives them 
out ; because while it is our malice draws them into 
our hearts, it is the goodness of the Holy Spirit which 
draws them out. 

Since you have strength to rise an hour before 
Matins, and make mental prayer, I approve it very 
strongly. What a happiness to be with God while no 
one knows what passes between God and the heart, 
except God himself and the heart which adores him. 

a a 2 

35 ^ St Francis de Sales. 

I approve that you practise yourself in meditation on 
the life and Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

In the evening, between Vespers and supper, you 
may retire, for quarter of an hour or a short half- 
hour, either into your room or the church, and there, 
in order to rekindle the fire of the morning, either 
taking up again the same subject or taking Jesus Christ 
crucified as your subject, you must make a dozen fer- 
vent and amorous aspirations to your beloved, always 
renewing your good resolutions to be all his. 

Have good courage ; God undoubtedly calls you to 
much love and perfection. He will be faithful on his 
side to help you ; be faithful on yours to follow him 
and correspond with him. And as for me, my child, 
be well assured that all my affections are dedicated to 
your good and the service of your dear soul, which may 
God will to bless for ever with his great benedictions. 
I am then, in him, all yours, &c. 


To a Lady. 

The Saint consoles her mi her sjnritual dryness. 

Certainly, my dear daughter, it is not that I have 
not a heart very tender for you ; but I am so harassed 
by encumbrances that I cannot write when I wish, 
and, again, your trouble, which is no other thing than 
dryness and aridity, cannot be remedied by letter. It 

Various Letters. 357 

is necessary personally to hear your little accidents, 
and after all, patience and resignation are their only 
cure : after the winter of these coldnesses the holy 
summer will arrive, and we shall be consoled. 

Alas ! my daughter, we are always attached to 
smoothness, sweetness, and delicious consolations ; but 
the rigour of dryness is more fruitful : and though 
St. Peter loved Mount Thabor, and avoided Mount 
Calvary, yet the latter fails not to be more profitable 
than the other; and the blood shed in the one is 
better than the brightness shed over the other. Our 
Lord already treats you as a brave daughter, so be 
something of one. It is better to eat bread without 
sugar than sugar without bread. 

The disquiet and grief which are caused you by 
the knowledge of your nothingness, are not desirable ; 
for while the cause of it is good, the effect is not. No, 
my child, for this knowledge of our nothingness 
should not trouble us, but soften, humble and abase 
us ; it is self-love which makes us become impatient 
when we see ourselves vile and abject. So then I 
conjure you by our common love, who is Jesus Christ, 
to live quite consoled and quite tranquil in your infir- 
mities. I will glory in my infirmities, says our great 
St. Paul, that the strength of my Saviour may dwell 
in me ;* yes, for our misery serves as a throne for 
the sovereign goodness of our Lord. 

I wish you a thousand blessings. O Lord, bless 
the heart of my dearest child, and make it burn as a 
* 2 Cor. xii. 9. 

3 5 8 kSV. Francis de Sales. 

holocaust of sweetness unto the honour of your love ! 
May she seek no other contentment than yours, nor 
require other consolation than to be perfectly con- 
secrated to your glory ! May Jesus be for ever in the 
midst of this heart, and this heart for ever in the 
midst of Jesus! May Jesus live in this heart, and 
this heart in Jesus ! 

To a Lady. 

The will of God gives a great value to the least actions. We must 
love nothing too ardently, even virtues. 

Madam, my dearest Sister, — You see me in readiness 
to write to you, and I know not what, except to tell you 
to walk always gaily in this all-heavenly way in which 
God has placed you. I will bless him all my life for 
the graces he has prepared you ; prepare him, on your 
side, as an acknowledgment, great resignations, and 
courageously lead your heart to the execution of the 
things you know he wants from you, in spite of all 
kinds of contradictions which might oppose themselves 
to this. 

Regard not at all the substance of the things you do, 
but the honour they have, however trifling they may 
be, to be willed by God, to be in the order of his 
providence, and disposed by his wisdom; in a word, 
being agreeable to God, and recognised as such, to 
whom can they be disagreeable ? 

Various Letters. 359 

Be attentive, my dearest child, to make yourself 
every day more pure of heart. This purity consists 
in estimating and weighing all things in the balance 
of the sanctuary, which is nothing else but the will 
of God. 

Love nothing too much, not even virtues, which 
are lost sometimes by passing the bounds of modera- 
tion. I do not know whether you understand me, 
but I think so : I refer to your desires, your ardours. 

It is not the property of roses to be white, I think; 
for the red are lovelier and of sweeter smell ; but it 
is the property of lilies. 

Let us be what we are, and let us be it well, to do 
honour to the Master whose work we are. People 
laughed at the painter, who wishing to represent a 
horse, painted a perfect bull ; the work was fine in 
itself, but of little credit to the workman, who had 
another design, and had done well by chance. 

Let us be what God likes, so long as we are his, 
and let us not be what we want to be, if against his 
intention ; for if we were the most excellent creatures 
under heaven, what would it profit us if we were not 
according to the pleasure of God's will ? 

Perhaps I repeat this too much ; but I will not say 
it so often again, as our Lord has already strengthened 
you much in this point. 

Do me this pleasure, to let me know the subject of 
your meditations for the present year. I shall be 
charmed to know it, and also the fruit they produce 
in you. Rejoice in our Lord, my dear sister, and 

360 St. Francis de Sales. 

keep your heart in peace. I salute your husband, 
and am for ever, Madam, &c. 


To Mademoiselle de Traves. 

The Saint removes two scruples which she had. 

4th July, 1620. 
It is the truth that not only are you my very dear 
daughter, but it is the truth that every day you are 
more so in my love. And, God be praised because 
he has not only created in my heart an affection for 
you really more than paternal, but also because he 
has placed in your heart the assurance you ought to 
have of this. And, indeed, my dearest daughter, 
when in writing to me you say sometimes, your 
dearest daughter loves you, and when you speak 
to me in that quality, I confess that I receive 
an excellent satisfaction from it. Believe it, and say 
truly, I pray you, that you are assuredly my dearest 
child, and never doubt it. What you said to save a 
little temporal good was not a lie, but only an 
inadvertence, so that at most there could only be 
a venial sin, and as you describe the case to me, 
there would even seem to be no sin at all, as 
there was no question of injustice to your neighbour.^ 

* The Saint does not say that a lie would be no sin if it did no 
harm to our neighbour, but that we might plead inadvertence with 
more probability, when there was no question of serious conse- 
quences. — {Translator s Note.) 

Various Letters. 361 

Make no scruple, either little or great, in com- 
municating before holy Mass, above all where there is 
so good a cause as you mention ; but even if there 
were not, still there would not be the merest shadow 
of sin. 

And keep your soul always in your hands, my 
dearest daughter, to preserve it well for him who 
having ransomed it for you alone deserves to possess 
it. May he be for ever blessed ! Amen. Truly 
I am very faithfully yours in him, and the very 
humble servant of yourself, and of your dear sister, 
and of all your house. 


To a Lady. 

Merit of the services which we pay God in desolations 
and drynesses. 

20th September 9 162 1. 
It has been a very sweet consolation to have news of 
your soul, my dearest daughter; of your soul, I say, 
which in all truth mine cherishes very singularly. 

The trouble you have to put yourself in prayer will 
not lessen the value of it before God, who prefers the 
services we pay him amid interior or exterior contra- 
dictions to those we give him amid sweetnesses ; since 
he himself, to make us agreeable to his Eternal Father, 
has reconciled us to his Majesty in his blood, in his 
labours, in his death. 

362 St. Francis de Sales. 

And be not astonished if you do not yet see in your- 
self much progress, either in your spiritual or your 
temporal affairs : all trees, my dearest daughter, do 
not produce their fruit in the same season; yea, those 
which have the best are also longest in bringing them 
forth, and the palm-tree, it is said, takes one hundred 

God has hidden in the secret of his Providence the 
mark of the time when he means to hear you, and the 
way in which he will hear you; and perhaps he will 
hear you excellently, not according to your thoughts, 
but his own. So repose in peace, my dearest daughter, 
in the paternal arms of the most loving care which 
the sovereign Heavenly Father has and will have of 
you, since you are his, and no longer your own. 

For in this I have my chiefest sweetness, in remem- 
bering the day in which, prostrate at the feet of his 
mercy, after your confession, you dedicated to him 
your person and your life, to remain, in everything and 
everywhere, humbly and filially submissive to his most 
holy will. So be it, my dearest daughter; I am uni- 
versally your, &c. 

P.S. — O my God, dearest child, how many different 
ways has this eternal Providence of gratifying his own! 
Oh ! what a great favour is it when he preserves and 
keeps his gratifications for eternal life ! I have said 
this word to finish and fill up the page. May God 
ever be our all. Amen. 

Various Letters. 363 


To a Religious of the Visitation. 

Answers to questions on the truths of Faith. 

28th November, 162 1. 
The truths of the faith, my dearest child, are some- 
times agreeable to the human spirit, not only because 
God has revealed them by his word, and proposed them 
by his Church, but also because they suit our taste, 
arid because we enter into them thoroughly, we un- 
derstand them easily, and they are according to our 
inclinations. As, for example, that there is a Paradise 
after this mortal life, — this is a truth of faith which 
many hold much to their satisfaction, because it is 
sweet and desirable. That God is merciful the greatest 
part of the world finds to be a very good thing, and 
easily believes, because even philosophy teaches us 
this ; it is conformable to our taste and to our desire. 

Now, all the truths of faith are not of this kind ; 
as, for example, that there is an eternal hell for the 
punishment of the wicked, — this is a truth of faith, 
but a bitter, terrifying, fearful truth, and one which 
we do not believe willingly, except by the force of God's 

And now I say, firstly, that naked and simple faith 
is that by which we believe the truths of faith, without 
considering any pleasure, sweetness, or consolation, we 
may have in them, but solely by the acquiescence of 
our spirit in the authority of the word of God, and 

3^4 5/. Francis de Sales. 

the proposition of the Church : and thus we believe 
no less the terrifying truths than the sweet and agree- 
able truths : and then our faith is naked, because it is 
not clothed with any sweetness or any relish ; it is 
simple, because it is not mingled with any satisfaction 
of our own feelings. 

Secondly, there are truths of faith which we can 
apprehend by the imagination ; as that our Lord was 
born in the manger of Bethlehem, that he was carried 
into Egypt, that he was crucified, that he went up to 
heaven. There are others, which we cannot at all 
grasp with the imagination, as the truth of the Most 
Holy Trinity, Eternity, the presence of our Lord's 
body in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist : 
for all these truths are true in a way which is incon- 
ceivable to our imagination, since we cannot imagine 
how these things can be. Still, our understanding 
believes them firmly and simply, on the sole assurance 
it has of the word of God : and this faith is truly 
naked, for it is divested of all imagination ; and it is 
entirely simple, because it has no sort of action except 
the action of our understanding, which purely and 
simply embraces these truths on the sole security of 
God's word. This faith, thus naked and simple, is that 
which the saints have practised and do practise amid 
sterilities, drynesses, distrusts, and darknesses. 

To live in truth, and not in untruth, is to lead a 
life entirely conformed to naked and simple faith, ac- 
cording to the operations of grace and not of nature ; 
because our imagination, our senses, our feeling, our 

Various Letters. 365 

taste, our consolations, our arguments, maybe deceived 
and may err; and to live according to them is to live 
in untruth, or at least in a perpetual risk of untruth ; 
but to live in naked and simple faith, — this is to live 
in truth. 

So it is said of the wicked spirit, that he abode not 
in the truth* because having had faith in the begin- 
ning of his creation, he quitted it, wishing to argue, 
without the faith, about his own excellence, and wish- 
ing to make himself his end, not according to naked 
and simple faith, but according to natural conditions, 
which carried him on to an extravagpnt and irregular 
love of himself. This is the lie in which live all those 
who do not adhere with simplicity and nudity of faith 
to the word of God, but wish to live according to 
human prudence, which is no other than an ants' nest 
of lies and vain arguments. 

This is what I think good to say to you on your two 

To a Lady. 

Of piety in the midst of afflictions. 

Annecy, 28th April, 1622. 
May it please the Holy Spirit to inspire me with what 
I have to write to you, Madam, and, if you please, 

* John viii. 44. 

366 Si. Francis de Sales. 

dearest daughter. To live constantly in devotion there 
is only need to establish in our mind strong and ex- 
cellent maxims. 

The first to establish in yours is that of St. Paul. 
To them that love God, all things work together unto 
good* And in truth, since God can and does draw 
good from evil, for whom will he do so if not for those 
who, without reserve, have given themselves to him ? 
Yes, even sins (from which God by his goodness de- 
fend us !) are overruled by Divine Providence, unto the 
good of those who are his. Never would David have 
been so crowned with humility if he had not sinned, 
nor Magdalen so amorous of her Saviour if he had not 
forgiven her so many sins, and he would not have for- 
given them, if she had not committed them. 

Behold, my dear daughter, this great craftsman 
(artisan) of mercy ; he alters our miseries into graces, 
and makes the salutary theriacumf of our souls from 
the viper of our iniquities. Tell me, then, what will 
he not do with our afflictions, with our labours, with 
the persecutions used against us ? If then it ever 
happens that any pain touches you, from any quarter 
whatever, assure your soul that if it truly loves God, 
all will turn unto good. And though this " good " 
works by springs which you do not see, remain all the 
more assured that it will come. If God puts the clay 
of ignominy on your eyes, it is to give you excellent 

* Eom. viii. 28. 

f A medicine in which one of the ingredients was the head of 
the viper. It was used against poisons. 

Various Letters. 367 

sight, and to make you a spectacle of honour. If 
God lets you fall down, like St. Paul, whom he struck 
to the earth, it is to lift you up into glory. 

The second maxim is, that he is your Father : for 
otherwise, he would not order you to say : Our Father, 
who art in heaven. And what have you to fear, who 
are daughter of such a father, without whose provi- 
dence not a single hair of your head shall perish. It 
is a marvel that being child of such a father, we have 
or can have other care than to love and serve him 
well. Take the pains he would have you take about 
your person and your family, and no more; for you 
will see that he will have care of you. Think in me, 
he said to St. Catharine of Sienna (whose feast we keep 
to day) and I will think in thee. 0, Eternal Father! 
says the wise Man, your providence governs all* 

The third maxim you must have is that which our 
Lord taught to his Apostles. Did gou want any- 
thing ?f Look, my dear daughter; our Lord had sent 
his Apostles up and down, without money, without 
staff, without shoes, without scrip, with but one coat, — 
and afterwards he said to them, When I sent you so, 
did you want anything ? But they said : nothing. 
And now, my child, when you have had afflictions, 
even in the time when you had not so much confi- 
dence in God, did you perish in the affliction ? You 
will tell me : no. And why then will you not have 
courage to come safely out of all other adversities ? 
God has not abandoned you up to now, will he 
* Wisdom xiv. 3. f Luke xxii. 35. 

368 St. Francis de Sales. 

abandon you from this time, when more than formerly 
you would be his? Fear not future evils of this 
world, for perhaps they will never happen ; and in 
any case, if they do happen, God will strengthen you. 
He ordered St. Peter to walk on the waters, and St, 
Peter, seeing the wind and the storm, was afraid, and 
the fear made him sink, and he begged help from his 
master, who said to him : Man of little faith, why didst 
thou doubt ?* And giving his hand he reassured him. 
If God makes you walk on the waves of adversity, 
doubt not, my child ; fear not, God is with you ; have 
good courage, and you shall be delivered. 

The fourth maxim is eternity. Little matters it 
what I am in these passing moments, if I am eternally 
in the glory of my God. My child, we move towards 
eternity, we have almost already one of our feet 
therein ; if our eternity be happy, what matters it 
that these transitory moments be burdensome ? Is it 
possible for us to know that our tribulations of three 
or four days work such a weight of eternal consola- 
tions, and to be unwilling to bear them ? In fine, my 
dearest daughter, 

What is not for eternity, 
Can nothing be but vanity. 

The fifth maxim is that of the Apostle : God forbid 
that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. f Plant in your heart Jesus Christ crucified, 
and all the crosses of this world will seem roses to 

* Mat. xiv. 31. t Gal vi. 14. 

Various Letters. 369 

you. Those who are pricked with the thorns of the 
crown of our Lord who is our head,, scarcely feel 
other thorns. 

You will find all I have said to you in the 3rd, 4th 
(or 5th), and last books of the Love of God. You 
will find many things about it in the Sinners' Guide 
(the large one) of Granada. I must conclude, for I 
am pressed for time. Write to me with confidence, 
and point out to me what you think I can do for your 
heart, and mine will give it very affectionately ; for I 
am, in all truth, Madame, your, &c. 

To a Lady. 

Purity of Christian friendships : God is their bond. — The world is 
insipid to those who love God. — Humility must supply the 
want of courage. 

My God, dearest daughter, how I love your heart 
since it wishes to love nothing but its Jesus and for 
its Jesus ! Alas ! could it possibly be that a soul 
which considers this Jesus crucified for her, should 
love anything outside him ? Could it be that after so 
many true movements of fidelity, which have so often 
made us say, write, sing, breathe and sigh, Vive Jesus ! 
we should will, like Jews, to cry out : Let him be 
crucified, let him be killed in our hearts ? O God ! 
my child, I say very true child, how strong shall we 
be if we continue to keep ourselves united to one 

B B 

37° »SV. Francis de Sales. 

another by this cord dyed in the crimson blood of 
our Saviour ! For no one will attack your heart 
without finding resistance from you, and from my 
heart, which is quite dedicated to yours. 

I have seen it, this wretched letter. The wicked, 
says David, have told me their fables, but not as your 
law* O God ! how insipid is this compared with the 
sacred divine love which lives in our hearts ! 

You are right ; as once for all you have declared 
the invariable resolutions of your soul, and he pre- 
tends not to be willing to acknowledge them, do not 
answer a single word until he speaks otherwise ; for 
he does not understand the language of the cross, nor 
we that of hell. 

You do well also to receive these few words I say to 
you with tenderness of love : for the affection I have for 
you is greater and stronger than you would ever think. 

You are glad that the troublesome girl has left 
you : a soldier must have gained much in the war, 
when he is very glad of peace. We shall never have 
perfect sweetness and charity, if they are not practised 
amid repugnances, aversions, and disgusts. True 
peace does not lie in not fighting but in conquering : 
the conquered fight no longer, yet they have not true 
peace. Well, we must greatly humble ourselves for 
being still so little masters of ourselves, and so much 
lovers of ease and rest. 

The child who is about to be born for us is not 
come to rest himself, nor to have his conveniences, 

* Ps. cxviii. 85. 

Various Letters. 371 

either spiritual or temporal, but to fight, to mortify 
himself, and to die. So, then, henceforward, since we 
have not courage, let us at least have humility. 

I will see you soon ; keep quite ready on the tip of 
your tongue what you will have to say to me, so that, 
however little leisure we have, you may be able to pour 
it out into my soul : meantime, press closely this divine 
baby to your heart, that you may, with that soul, ine- 
briated with heavenly love, breathe forth these sacred 
words of love: My beloved to me, and I to him. He 
shall abide between my breasts* 

So, my dearest daughter, may this divine love of 
our hearts be for ever on our breast, to inflame and 
consume us by his grace ! Amen. 


To one of his Sisters. 

The Saint exhorts her to live in a great conformity with 
our Lord. 

My dearest Sister, — I am writing just to wish you 
good-night, and to keep you in assurance that I do 
not cease wishing a thousand thousand heavenly 
blessings to you, and to my brother ; but particularly 
that of being ever transfigured in our Lord. Oh ! 
how lovely is his face, and his eyes, how mild and 
wondrous in sweetness, and how good is it to be with 
him on the mount of glory ! It is there, my dear 
* Cant, i. 12. 

B B 2 

372 St. Francis de Sales. 

sister, my child, that we ought to lodge our desires 
and our affections, not on this earth, where there are 
but vain beauties and beautiful vanities. Well, now, 
thanks to this Saviour, we are on the slope of Mount 
Thabor, as we have firm resolutions to serve and love 
fully his divine goodness; we must then encourage 
ourselves to a holy hope. Let us ascend ever, my 
dearest sister, let us ascend without growing tired to 
this heavenly vision of the Saviour; let us withdraw 
ourselves, little by little, from earthly and base affec- 
tions, and aspire after the happiness which is prepared 
for us. 

I conjure you, my dear child, to beseech our Lord 
earnestly for me, that he would keep me henceforth in 
the paths of his will, that I may serve him in sincerity 
and fidelity. Look, my dear child, I desire either to 
die or to love God, either death or love : for life that 
is without this love, is infinitely worse than death. 
My God ! dearest child, how happy shall we be, if we 
love well this sovereign goodness, which prepares us so 
many favours and benedictions. 

Let us belong entirely to it, my dearest child, amid 
the many trials which the diversity of worldly things 
causes us. How would we better testify our fidelity 
than amid contrarieties ! Ah ! my dearest child, my 
sister, solitude has its dangers, the world has its snares, 
but everywhere we must have good courage, since 
everywhere the help of heaven is ready for those who 
have confidence in God, and who, with humility and 
sweetness, implore his paternal assistance. 

Various Letters. 373 

Be on your guard not to let your carefulness turn 
to solicitude and anxiety ; and though you are tossed 
on the waves and amid the winds of many troubles, 
always look up to heaven, and say to our Lord : O 
God, it is for you I voyage and sail : be my guide, 
and my pilot. Then comfort yourself in this, that 
when we are in port, the delights we shall have there 
will outbalance the labours endured in getting there. 
But we are on our way there, amid all these storms, if 
we have a right heart, good intention, firm courage^ 
our eyes on God, and in him all our trust. 

And if the violence of the tempest sometimes disturbs 
our stomach, and makes our head swim a little, let us 
not be surprised ; but, as soon as ever we can, let us 
take breath again, and encourage ourselves to do better. 
You continue to walk in our good resolutions, I am 
sure. Be not troubled, then, at these little attacks 
of disquiet and annoyance which the multiplicity of 
domestic affairs causes you ; no, my dearest child, for 
this serves as an exercise to practise those most dear 
and lovely virtues which our Lord has recommended 
us. Believe me, true virtue does not thrive in exterior 
repose, anymore than good fish in the stagnant waters 
of a marsh. Vive Jesus ' 

374 »SV. Francis de Sales, 


To the Same. 

The Saint exhorts her to communicate often, and to abandon 
hc7*selfto Providence in contradiction. 

May our Lord take away your heart as he did that of 
the devout St. Catharine of Sienna (whose feast we keep 
to-day), to give you his own most divine, so that you may 
live solely by his holy love. What a happiness, my dearest 
sister, if some day, in coming from Holy Communion, 
I found my weak and miserable heart out of my breast, 
and established in its stead the precious heart of my 
God ! But, my dearest child, since we ought not to 
desire things so extraordinary, at least will I that our. 
poor hearts should henceforward live only under the 
obedience and commandments of the Lord : this will 
be quite enough, my dear sister, to imitate profitably 
in this point St. Catharine ; and then we shall be 
gentle, humble and charitable, since the heart of our 
Saviour has no laws more dear to it than those of gen- 
tleness, humility, and charity. 

Yon will be very happy, my dearest sister, my 
child, if amid all these follies of personal attachments, 
you live all in yourself, and all for God, who indeed 
alone merits to be served and followed with passion ; 
for thus doing, my dear sister, you will give good ex- 
ample to all, and will gain holy peace and tranquillity 
for yourself. Let others, I beg you, philosophize 
about the reason you have for communicating : for it 

Various Letters. 375 

is enough that your conscience, that you and I, know 
that this diligence in often looking over and repairing 
your soul, is greatly required for the preservation of 
it. If you wish to give account of it to some one, 
you may well say that you need to eat this divine 
food so often because you are very weakly, and with- 
out this refreshment, your spirit would easily faint 
away. Meanwhile, continue, my dearest sister, to 
clasp closely to your breast this dear Saviour. Let 
him be a lovely and sweet nosegay on your heart, in 
such sort that every one who approaches you may 
smell that you are perfumed, and know that your 
odour is the odour of myrrh. 

Keep your soul in peace, notwithstanding these 
disquieting things round about you. Submit to the 
most secret providence of God what you find hard, 
and firmly believe that he will sweetly conduct you, 
your life, and all your affairs. 

Do you know what the shepherds of Arabia do 
when they see it lighten and thunder, and see the air 
charged with thunderbolts ? They withdraw under 
laurels, themselves and their flocks. When we see 
that persecutions or contradictions threaten us with 
some great pain, we must withdraw, ourselves and our 
affections, under the holy cross, by a sweet confidence 
that all things work together unto good to them that 
love God* 

So then, my dearest child, my sister, keep your 
heart entirely recollected in peace; keep yourself 
* Kom. viii. 28. 

$7 6 St. Francis de Sales. 

carefully from worry ; often throw your confidence on 
the providence of our Lord. Be quite certain that 
rather will heaven and earth pass away, than our Lord 
be wanting to your protection so long as you are his 
obedient child, or at least desirous to obey. Two or 
three times a-day think whether your heart is not dis- 
quieted about something ; and finding that it is so 
try at once to put it back in repose. Adieu, my 
dearest child. May God ever be in the midst of your 
heart. Amen. 


To a Lady. 

The means to be all to God is to crucify our strongest 

My dearest Mother, — Now what shall I say to you ? 
Many things, without doubt, if I wished to follow my 
affections, which are always full for you, as I desire 
that yours be full for me, above all when you are in 
the little oratory. I beseech you there to pour them 
forth before God for my amendment ; as on my part 
I pour forth, not mine, which are unworthy, on ac- 
count of the heart whence they come, but the blood 
of the Immaculate Lamb before the Eternal Father, 
for the good intention you have of being all his. 

What happiness, my dear mother, to be all his, who, 
to make us his, made himself all ours ! But for this 
it is necessary to crucify in us all our affections, and 
specially those which are more strong and active, by 

Various Letters. 577 

a continual slackening and tempering of the actions 
which proceed from them, that they may be done not 
with impetuosity, nor even by our own will, but by 
the will of the Holy Spirit. 

Above all, my dear mother, we need a kind, sweet 
and loving heart towards our neighbour, and particu- 
larly when he is burdensome and displeasing to us ; 
for then we have nothing to love in him but his 
relation to our Saviour, which, without any doubt, 
makes love more excellent and worthy, inasmuch as 
it is more pure and free from transitory conditions. 

I pray our Lord to increase in you his holy love. 
I am, in him, your, &c. 

To a Superior of the Visitation. 

God regards us with love, provided that we have good will. Our 
imperfections must neither astonish nor discourage us. 

It would have been to me a consolation beyond com- 
pare to see you all when I passed by ; but God not 
having willed it, I could not will it. And meanwhile, 
my dearest daughter, I very willingly read your letters 
and answer them. 

Our Blessed Lady knows, dearest child, whether 
her son thinks of you, and regards you with love ! 
Yes, my dearest daughter, he thinks of you ; and not 
only of you, but of the least hair of your head : this is 
an article of faith, and we may not have the least 

37$ St. Francis de Sales. 

doubt of it : but of course I know well you do not 
doubt of it ; you only express thus the aridity, dry- 
ness, and insensibility in which the lower portion of 
your soul finds itself now. Indeed the Lord is in this 
ptace and I knew it not* said Jacob : that is, I did 
not perceive it, I had no feeling of it, it seemed not 
so to me. I have spoken of this in the book of the 
Love of God, treating of the death of the soul and of 
resignations; I do not remember in what book.f And 
you can have no doubt whether God regards you with 
love ; for he regards lovingly the most horrible sinners 
in the world on the least true desire they have of con- 
version. And tell me, my dearest child, have you not 
the intention of being God's ? Do you not want to 
serve him faithfully ? And who gives you this desire 
and this intention, if not himself in his loving regard 
for you ? The way is not to examine whether your 
heart pleases him, but whether his heart pleases you ; 
and if you look at his heart, it will be impossible for 
it not to please you ; for it is a heart so gentle, so 
sweet, so condescending, so amorous of poor creatures, 
if only they acknowledge their misery; so gracious 
towards the miserable, so good to penitents ! And 
who would not love this royal heart, paternally mater- 
nal towards us? 

You say rightly, my dearest child, that these temp- 
tations come because your heart is without tender- 
ness towards God : for it is true that if you had tender- 
ness you would have consolation, and if you had con- 
* Gen. xxviii. 16. t Book ix. 

Various Letters. 379 

solation you would no "longer be in trouble. But, 
my daughter, the love of God does not consist in 
consolation, nor in tenderness : otherwise our Lord 
would not have loved his Father when he was sorrow- 
ful unto death, and cried out : My Father, my Father, 
why hast thou forsaken me t* and it was exactly then 
that he made the greatest act of love it is possible to 

In fact, we would always wish to have a little 
consolation and sugar on our food, that is, to have 
the feeling of love and tenderness, and consequently 
consolation ; and similarly we would greatly wish to 
be without imperfection ; but, my dearest child, we 
must patiently continue to be of human nature and 
not angelic. 

Our imperfections must not give us pleasure ; 
indeed we should say with the holy Apostle : Unhappy 
man that I am : who shall deliver me from the body of 
this death ?f But they must neither astonish us nor 
take away our courage ; we must, indeed, draw from 
them submission, humility, and distrust of ourselves, 
but not discouragement, nor affliction of heart, and 
much less distrust of the love of God towards us. So 
God does not love our imperfections and venial sins, 
but he much loves us in spite of them. So again, as 
the weakness and infirmity of the child displeases the 
mother, and still not only does she not cease to love 
it, but even loves it tenderly and with compassion ; in 
the same way, though God does not love our impcr- 
* Mat. xxvi. 38. f Rom. vii. 24. 

380 St. Francis de Sales. 

fections and venial sins, he does not cease to love us 
tenderly ; so that David had reason to say to our 
Lord : Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak.* 

Well, now, that is enough, my dearest daughter ; 
live joyous, our Lord regards you, and regards you 
with love, and with as much more tenderness as 
you have more infirmity. Never let your spirit 
voluntarily nourish thoughts contrary to this; and 
when they come do not regard them in themselves ; 
turn your eyes from their iniquity, and turn them 
back towards God with a courageous humility, to 
speak to him of his ineffable goodness, with which 
he loves our failing, poor and abject human nature, 
in spite of its infirmities. 

Pray for my soul, my dearest child, and recommend 
me to your dear novices, all of whom I know, except 
Sister Colin. 

I am entirely yours in our Lord. May he live for 
ever and ever (pour tout jamais) in our hearts ! Amen. 

To a Lady. 

A Confessor may for various reasons withdraw frequent communion 
from certain persons ; this privation must he borne with a 
humble obedience, to make it advantageous. 

You have by this time, my dearest daughter, my 

answer to the letter which N. brought me ; and here 

* Ps. vi. 3. 

Various Letters. 381 

is the answer to yours of the 14th of January. You 
have done well to obey your Confessor, whether he 
has withdrawn from you the consolation of communi- 
cating often in order to try you, or whether he has 
done it because you did not take sufficient care 
to correct your impatience. I think he has done 
it for both motives, and that you ought to persevere 
in this patience as long as he orders you, since 
you have every reason to believe that he does nothing 
without proper consideration ; and if you obey 
humbly, one communion will be more useful in 
its effect than two or three otherwise. For there is 
nothing which makes meat so profitable as to take it 
with appetite and after exercise : the delay will 
give you a greater appetite, and the exercise you will 
take in mortifying your impatience will reinvigorate 
your spiritual stomach. 

Meanwhile, humble yourself gently, and often make 
an act of love of your own abjection. Remain some- 
what in the attitude of the Chanansean : Yes, Lord, 
I am not worthy to eat the bread of the children* if 
I am truly a dog that snarl at and bite my neighbour 
without cause by my words of impatience. But 
if the dogs do not eat the bread, at least they have 
the crumbs from their master's table. So, O my 
sweet master ! I beg, if not your body, at least the 
benedictions which it sheds on those who approach it 
with love. These are the sentiments you might have, 

* Mat. xv. 26. 

382 St. Francis de Sales. 

my dearest daughter, on the days when you were 
wont to communicate and do not. 

The feeling you have of being all God's is not 
a deceitful one ; but it requires that you should 
occupy yourself a little more in the exercise of virtues, 
and have a special care to acquire those in which you 
find yourself most wanting. Read again the Spiritual 
Combat, and give a special attention to the teachings 
therein : it will be very useful to you. 

The sentiments we feel in prayer are good ; but 
still we must not so delight in them as not diligently 
to employ ourselves in virtues and the mortification 
of the passions. I pray ever for the good mother of 
the dear daughters. And, indeed, since you are 
in the way of prayer, and the good Carmelite mother 
helps you, it is sufficient. I recommend myself to her 
prayers and yours ; and am, without end or reserve, 
very perfectly yours. Vive Jesus. Amen. 


To a Lady. 

Tlie Saint exhorts her to fidelity in her spiritual exercises and 
the practice of virtue. How we are to treat our heart when 
it has committed a fault. 

Madam,- — I truly and greatly desire that when you 
expect to gain any consolation by writing to me, you 
should do so with confidence. We must join these 

Various Letters. 383 

two things together : an extreme affection for prac- 
tising our exercises very exactly, whether of prayer or 
virtues, and a not being troubled or disquieted or 
astonished if we happen to commit a fault in them ; 
for the first point depends on our fidelity, which ought 
always to be entire, and grow from hour to hour ; the 
second comes from our infirmity, which we can never 
put off during this mortal life. 

My dearest daughter, when faults happen to us, 
let us examine our heart at once, and ask it if it has 
not still living and entire the resolution of serving 
God ; and I hope it will answer us yes, and that it 
w r ould rather suffer a thousand deaths than withdraw 
itself from this resolution. 

Thereupon let us ask it : why then do you now 
fail, why are you so cowardly ? It will answer : I 
have been surprised,, I know not how ; but I am now 
fallen, like this. 

Well, my child, it must be forgiven ; it is not by 
infidelity it falls, it is by infirmity; it needs then to be 
corrected gently and calmly, and not to be more 
vexed and troubled. We ought to say to it : Well 
now, my heart, my friend, in the name of God take 
courage, let us go on, let us beware of ourselves, let 
us lift ourselves up to our help and our God. Ah ! 
yes, my dear daughter, we must be charitable towards 
our soul, and not scold it, so long as we see that it 
does not offend of set purpose. 

You see, in this exercise we practise holy humility j 
what we do for our salvation is done for the service 

384 St. Francis de Sales. 

of God ; for our Lord himself has worked out in this 
world only our salvation. Do not desire the battle, 
but await it with firm foot. May our Lord be your 
strength. I am ; in him, your, &c. 

To a Superior or the Visitation. 

Considerations on the death of the Blessed Virgin. 

My dearest Mother, — I was considering last evening, 
according to the weakness of my spiritual eyes, this 
Queen dying of a last attack of a fever dearer than all 
health — the fever of love, which, drying up her heart, 
at last inflames it, burns it and consumes it, in such 
way that it gives up its holy spirit, which goes 
straight away into the hands of her son. Ah ! may 
this holy Virgin deign to make us live by her prayers 
in this holy love ! May it be for ever the most 
unique object of our heart. May our union for ever 
give glory to the love of God, which bears the sacred 
name of Unitive ! 

I have the happiest of birthdays, my dearest 
mother, in having been born into this world on 
the day when the most holy Virgin, our Queen y 
appeared in heaven, in gilded clothing, surrounded with 
variety.* Thus we shall speak on Sunday, the day 
on which I was born, and which has this glory, that 
* Ps. xliv. 10. 

Various Letters. 385 

it was during the octave of this great Assumption. 
Ah, God ! dearest mother, how entirely would I 
hollow out our heart before this exalted Lady, that 
it may please her to fill it with that overflowing dew 
of Hermon, which distils on all sides from her holy 
plenitude of graces. 

O how absolute and sovereign is the perfection 
of this dove, in comparison of which we are ravens ! 
Ah ! Amid the deluge of our miseries, I have 
wished that she should find the olive branch of holy 
love, of purity, of sweetness, of prayer — to carry 
it back in sign of peace to her dear dove-spouse, 
to her Noe. Vive Jesus, vive Marie, the support of 
my life ! Amen. 


To A Lady. 

We must support with patience our own imperfections. — Advice 
on meditation. — The judgments of the world. 

Madam, my dearest Sister, — I see you ever languish- 
ing with the desire of a greater perfection. I praise 
this longing, for it delays you not, I well know ; on the 
contrary, it excites and goads you on to acquire what 
you want. 

You live, you tell me, with a thousand imperfec- 
tions. It is true, my good sister, but do you not try 
from hour to hour to make them die in you ? It is 
a certain truth that so long as we are here encom- 

c c 

386 St. Francis de Sales. 

passed with this heavy and corruptible body, there is 
always in us a something wanting, I know not what. 

I am not sure whether I have said to you that it is 
necessary to have patience with all the world, and 
firstly with ourselves. We are more troublesome to 
ourselves than any one else is to us, as soon as we 
are able to distinguish between the old and the new 
Adam, the interior and the exterior man. 

Well; you say you always have your book in your 
hand for meditation; otherwise you do nothing. 
What does that matter? Whether book in hand, 
and reading a little at a time, or without book, what 
difference ? When I said you were only to take half 
an hour, it was in the beginning, when I was afraid 
of hurting your imagination ; but now, there is no 
danger in employing an hour. 

On the day of communion, there is no danger in 
doing all sorts of good things or in working ; there 
would be more in doing nothing. In the primitive 
Church, where all communicated every day, think 
you that therefore they kept their arms folded ? And 
St. Paul, who said Holy Mass habitually, nevertheless 
gained his sustenance by the work of his hands. 

From two things only must we keep ourselves on 
the day of ccmmunion : from sin, and from delights 
and pleasures eagerly sought out (recherches) . As to 
those which are of duty, or required, or necessary, or 
taken in an honest spirit of condescension to others, 
these are not at all forbidden on that day ; on the con- 
trary, they are counselled, under the condition of 

Various Letters. 387 

observing a gentle and holy modesty. No, I would 
not abstain from going to an innocent feast or party 
(assemblee) on that day, if I was invited, though I 
would not seek it out. 

You ask me if those who wish to live with some 
perfection can see so much of the world. Perfection, 
my dear lady, does not lie in not seeing the world, 
but in not tasting or relishing it. All that the sight 
brings us is danger ; for he who sees it is in some 
peril of loving it : but he who is fully resolved and 
determined, is not harmed by the sight. In a word, 
my sister, the perfection of charity is the perfection 
of life ; for the life of our soul is charity. Our first 
Christians were of the world in body and not in heart, 
and failed not to be very perfect. My dear sister, 1 
would wish no pretence in us, no pretence in the 
proper sense of the word. Sincerity (rondeur) and 
simplicity are our great virtues. 

But I am vexed, you say, about the incorrect judg- 
ments made of me; I do no good, and am thought 
to do some : and you ask me a remedy. This is it, 
my dear child, as the saints have taught it me : if the 
world despises us, let us be glad ; for it is right — we 
know that we are fit to be despised : if it esteems us, 
let us despise its esteem and its judgment, for it is 
blind. Trouble yourself little about what the world 
thinks, put yourself in no anxiety about it, despise its 
esteem and its disesteem (son prix et son mepris), and 
let it say what it likes, good or ill. 

So I do not approve that we should commit a fault, 

c c 2 

388 St. Francis de Sales. 

to give a bad opinion of ourselves ; this would be to 
err, and to make our neighbour err. On the con- 
trary, I wish that keeping our eyes on our Lord, we 
should do our works without regarding what the 
world thinks about them nor what view it takes of 
them. We may avoid giving a good opinion of self, 
but not seek to give a bad one, especially by faults, 
committed on purpose. In a word, despise almost 
equally whichever opinion the world will have of you, 
and put yourself in no trouble about it. To say that 
we are not what the world thinks, when it thinks well 
of you is good ; for the world is an impostor, it always 
says too much, either in good or evil. 

But what, again, do you say ? That you envy 
others whom I prefer to you? And the worst is that 
you say you know well I prefer them. How do you 
know it well, my dear sister? In what do I prefer 
others ? No, believe me, you are dear and very dear 
to me; and I well know that you do not prefer others 
to me, though you ought to do so ; but I am speaking 
to you in confidence. 

Our two sisters, who are in the country, have more 
need of assistance than you who are in the town, 
where you abound in exercises, in counsel, and in all 
that is needful, while they have no one to help them. 
And as to our sister Du N. Do you not see that 
she is alone, not having the inclination to accept those 
whom our father proposes to her? And our father 
does not like those whom we propose ; for according to 
what she writes to me, our father cannot approve the 

Various Letters. 389 

choice of M. Vardot. Do I not owe more compassion 
to this poor crucified one than to you, who, thanks to 
God, have so many advantages ? 

To a Lady. 

The remedy for calumny is not to trouble ourselves about it. 
Advice on Confession. 

My dearest Sister, — I have not had the pleasure of 
seeing Monsieur N., but I am not ignorant that you 
have been afflicted on account of certain libels which 
have appeared yonder, and I should much wish always 
to bear your troubles and labours, or at least to help 
you to bear them. But since the distance of our resi- 
dences does not allow me to help you in any other 
way, I beseech our Lord to be the protector of your 
heart and to banish therefrom all inordinate grief. 

Truly, my dearest sister, the greater part of our ills 
are rather imaginary than real. Do you think the 
world believes these libels ? It is possible that some 
take an interest about them, and that others imbibe 
some suspicion; but know, that your soul being good 
and truly resigned into the hands of our Lord, all 
attacks of this sort vanish into air like smoke ; and 
the more wind there is, the quicker they disappear. 
The harm of calumny is never so well cured as by 
appearing not to feel it, by despising contempt, and 
showing by our firmness that we are beyond attack, 

390 St. Francis de Sales. 

principally in the case of a libel of this kind : for a 
calumny, which has neither father nor mother willing 
to acknowledge it, shows that it is illegitimate. 

Now, my dearest sister, I want to tell you a saying 
of St. Gregory to an afflicted bishop : Ah ! said he, 
if your heart was in heaven, the winds of earth would 
not ruffle it at all ; he who has renounced the world, can 
be harmed by nothing that belongs to the world. Throw 
yourself at the feet of the crucifix, and see how many 
injuries He receives: beseech him, by the meekness with 
which he received them, to give you strength to bear 
these little evil reports which, as to his sworn servant, 
have fallen to your lot. Blessed are the poor, for they 
shall be rich in heaven, that kingdom belonging to 
them : and blessed are the injured and calumniated, for 
they shall be honoured of God. 

As to the rest of your letter : — the annual review 
of our souls is made, as you understand, to supply 
the defects of ordinary confessions, to provoke and 
strengthen by exercise a more profound humility, but 
especially to renew, not good purposes, but good reso- 
lutions. These we must apply as remedies to the in- 
clinations, habits, and other sources of our trespasses, 
to which we find ourselves most subject. 

Now, it would indeed be more suitable to make this 
review before him who had received our general con- 
fession, in order that by the consideration and reference 
of the preceding life to the following life, we might 
better take the requisite resolutions; that would be more 
desirable; but the souls which, like you, have not this 

Various Letters. 391 

convenience, may make use of some other confessor, 
the most discreet and wise they can find. 

To your second difficulty I answer, my dearest sister, 
that there is no need whatever in your review to signify 
in particular the number or little circumstances of your 
faults, but it suffices to say in general what are your 
principal falls, what your primary weaknesses of spirit. 
You need not say how many times you have fallen, but 
whether you are very subject and given to the sin. 
For example, you must not scrutinize yourself to see 
how often you have fallen into anger; perhaps this 
would give you too much to do; but simply say whether 
you are subject to this irregularity; whether, when it 
happens, you remain a long time entangled in it ; 
whether it is with much bitterness and violence. In 
fine, say what are the occasions which most provoke 
you to it ; the passion for play, self-consequence or 
pride, melancholy or obstinacy (of course I give them 
as examples) : and thus in a short time you will have 
finished your little review, without much tormenting 
either your memory or your leisure. 

As to the third difficulty, — some falls into mortal 
sin, provided we have no intention of staying in them, 
and do not go to sleep in the sin, do not prevent our 
making progress in devotion. This devotion, although 
lost by sinning mortally, is nevertheless recovered at 
the first true repentance we make of the sin, when, as 
I say, we have not long remained steeped in sin. So 
that these annual reviews are greatly salutary to souls 
which are still a little feeble ; for if, perchance, the first 

39 2 Sf> Francis de Sales. 

resolutions have not altogether strengthened them, 
the second and third will confirm them more; and at 
last, by dint of resolving often, we remain entirely re- 
solved, and we must not at all lose courage, but with 
a holy humility look at our weakness, declare it, 
and ask pardon, and beg the help of heaven. I am 
your, &c. 

To a Lady. 

The consideration of the sufferings of our Saviour ought to console 
us in our pains. 

It is the truth, my dearest daughter, that nothing is 
more capable of giving us a profound tranquillity in 
this world than often to behold our Lord in all the 
afflictions which happened to him from his birth to his 
death. We shall see there such a sea of contempt, of 
calumnies, of poverty and indigence, of abjections, of 
pains, of torments, of nakedness, of injuries, and of all 
sorts of bitterness, that in comparison with it we shall 
know that we are wrong when we call our little acci- 
dents by the names of afflictions, pains and contradic- 
tions ; and that we are wrong in desiring patience for 
such trifles, since a single little drop of modesty is 
enough for bearing these things well. 

I know exactly the state of your soul, and I seem 
to see it always before me, with all these little emo- 
tions of sadness, of surprise and of disquiet that come 

Variotis Letters. 393 

troubling it. They do so because it his not yet driven 
deep enough down into the will the foundations of love of 
the cross and abjection. My dearest daughter, a heart 
which greatly esteems and loves Jesus Christ crucified, 
loves his death, his pains, his torments, his being spat 
on, his insults, his destitutions, his hungers, his thirsts, 
his ignominies ; and when some little participation of 
these comes to it, it makes a very jubilee (il en jubile) 
over them for joy, and embraces them amorously. 

You must then every day, not in prayer, but out of 
prayer, when you are moving about, make a study of 
our Lord amid the pains of our redemption, and con- 
sider what a blessedness it will be to you to share in 
them ; you must see in what occasions you may gain 
this advantage, that is, the contradictions you may 
perhaps meet in all your desires, but especially in the 
desires which will seem to you the most just and 
lawful; and then, with a great love of the cross and 
passion of our Lord, you must cry out with St. Andrew : 
good cross, so loved by my Saviour, when will you 
receive me into your arms f 

Look you, my dearest child, we are too delicate 
when we call poverty a state in which we have not 
hunger, nor cold, nor ignominy, but simply some little 
contradiction to our desires. When we see one 
another again, remind me to speak to you a little about 
the tenderness and delicateness of your dear heart : 
you have need for your peace and repose, to be cured 
of this before all things; and you must form clearly in 
yourself the idea of eternity ; whoever thinks well on 

394 St. Francis de Sales. 

this troubles himself little about what happens in 
these three or four moments of mortal life. 

Since you are able to fast half Advent, you can 
continue to the end ; I am quite willing for you to 
communicate two days together when you have the 
convenience. You may certainly go, only go with 
devotion, to Mass after dinner ;* it is the old fashion 
of Christians. Our Lord does not regard these little 
things: reverence is in the heart, you must not let 
your spirit feed on these little considerations. Adieu, 
my dearest daughter, hold me ever as all yours ; for in 
true truth I am so. God bless you. Amen. 

To a Lady. 

The Saint recommends her peace of the soul and trust in God. 

October, 1617. 
I firmly believe, my dearest daughter, that your 
heart receives consolation from my letters, which are 
also written to you with an incomparable affection, 
since it has pleased God that my affection towards 
you should be quite paternal; according to which, I 
cease not to wish you the height of all blessings. 

Keep your courage ever high, I beseech you, my 
dearest daughter, in the confidence which you should 
have in our Lord, who has cherished you, giving you so 
* That is after the morning meal. 

Various Letters. 395 

many humble attractions to his service ; and cherishes 
you, continuing them to you, and will cherish you, giving 
you holy perseverance. 

I do not understand, in good sooth, how souls which 
have given themselves to the divine goodness, are not 
always joyous : for is there a happiness equal to this ? 
Nor should imperfections which may arise trouble you 
at all ; for we do not wish to entertain them, or even 
to stay our affections on them. Remain, then, quite 
in peace, and live in humility and sweetness of heart. 

You have well known, my dearest daughter, all our 
little afflictions, which I might well have had reason 
to call great, had I not seen a special love of God to- 
wards the souls whom he has withdrawn from amongst 
us ; for my brother died as a religious among soldiers ; 
my sister as a saint among religious. It is only to 
recommend them to your prayers that I say just this 

Your husband is quite right to love me j for I wish 
ever to honour him and you, my dearest daughter. 
I figure to myself that you always have a cordial 
affection for me, and your soul will answer you for 
me that I am yours, since the Lord and Creator of 
our spirits has made this tie between us. For ever 
may his name be blessed ! and that he may make you 
eternally his, is the continual desire, my dearest 
daughter, of your, &c. 

396 »SV. Francis de Sales. 

To an Ecclesiastic. 

Advantage of Christian friendship over that of the children of 
the world. 

Sepiteinber, 16 17. 

Amid the incertitudes of the desirable journey which 
was to bring us together for several months, my dear- 
est brother, I regret nothing so much as to see deferred 
the happiness which our hearts promised themselves 
of being able to entertain one another at will on the 
subject of our holy intentions. But the world and 
all its affairs are so subject to the laws of inconstancy 
that we must suffer the inconvenience of them, while 
our hearts may say : / shall never be moved* No, 
nothing shall shake us in the love of the cross, and 
in the dear union which the crucifix has made between 
our spirits. But now is the time when we must use 
the advantage which our friendship has over that of 
the children of this world, and make it live and 
gloriously reign, in spite of absence and the division 
of abodes ; for its author is not tied to time or place. 
Truly, my dearest brother, these friendships which 
God has made are independent of all that is outside 

Now, if I were truly Theophilus,\ as your great 
prelate calls me (rather according to the greatness of 
his charity than his knowledge of my infirmities), how 

* Ps. xxix. 7. f God-lover. 

Various Letters. 397 

delightsome should I be to you, my dearest brother ! 
But if you cannot love me because I am not such, 
love me that I may so become, praying our great 
Androphilus* to make me by his prayers Theophilus. 
I hope to go in a few days to take a little holy repo&e 
with him, who is our common phoenix, to smell the 
burning cinnamon, in which he wishes to die. He 
will live again amid the flames of sacred love, of which 
he describes the holy properties in a book which he 
is composing. 

But who can have told you that our good Sisters 
of the Visitation have been in trouble about their 
places and buildings ! O my dear brother ! The 
Lord hath been made a refuge for us :f our Lord is 
the refuge of their soul; are they not too happy? 
And as our good mother, all vigorous in her feeble 
state, said to me yesterday : If the sisters of our con- 
gregation are very humble and faithful to God, they 
will have the heart of Jesus, their crucified Spouse, 
for their dwelling and abiding-place in this world, 
and his heavenly palace for their eternal habitation. 

I needs must say into the ear of your heart, so 
lovingly beloved by mine, that I have an inexpressible 
sweetness of spirit in seeing the moderation of this 
dear mother, and the total disengagement from things 
of earth which she has testified amid all these little 
contrarieties. I say this to your heart only : for I 
have taken a resolution to say nothing of her who 
has heard the voice of the God of Abraham : Go forth 
* Man-lover. j Ps. lxxxix. I. 

398 St. Francis de Sales. 

out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of 
thy father's house, and come into the land which I shall 
show thee* In truth she does that, and more than 
that. Well, it means that I recommend her to your 
prayers, because the frequent attacks of her maladies 
often give us attacks of fear, although I cease not to 
hope that the God of our fathers will multiply her 
devout seed as the stars of heaven and the sand we 
see on the beach of the seas. 

But, my God, I say too much on a subject whereon 
I meant to say nothing : at the same time it is to 
you, to whom all things may be said, since you have 
a heart incomparable in affection for him who, with 
an amorous respect, protests to you that he is incom- 
parably, sir, &c. 


On humility of heart and ravishments. 

We ought not to desire extraordinary things, as, for 
instance, that God should do to us as to St. Catherine 
of Sienna, taking away our heart, and in its place 
putting his precious own ; but we must wish that our 
poor hearts should henceforth live only under the 
obedience of the heart of this Saviour ; this will be 
quite imitation enough of St. Catherine in this point : 
thus shall we be meek, humble and charitable. And 
since the heart of our Lord has no more affectionate 
* Gen. xii. 1. 

Various Letters. 399 

law than meekness, humility and charity, we must 
keep quite strong in us these dear virtues — sweetness 
towards our neighbour and very amiable humility 
towards God. True sanctity consists in the love of 
God, and not in foolishnesses of imaginations, of ravish- 
ments, which feed self-love, but starve obedience and 
humility : to wish to play the extatic is an abuse. 
But let us come to the exercise of true and veritable 
meekness and submission, renunciation of self, pliancy 
of heart, love of abjection, condescension to the desires 
of others ; it is this which is the true and most love- 
able extasy of the servants of God. 

When we see a person who in prayer has ravish- 
ments by which he goes out from and mounts above 
himself in God, and yet has no extasies in his life, 
that is, leads not a life lifted up and united to God 
by abnegation of worldly concupiscences, and morti- 
fication of natural will and inclinations, by an interior 
meekness, simplicity, humility, and above all by a 
continual charity — then we may believe that all these 
ravishments are very doubtful and perilous ; they are 
ravishments proper to make men wonder, but not to 
sanctify them. For what good does a soul get from 
being ravished unto God by prayer, if in its conver- 
sation and life it is ravished away by earthly, low, and 
natural affections? To be above self in prayer, and 
below self in life and operation ; to be an angel in 
prayer and a beast in intercourse with men, this is to 
go lame on both legs ; it is to swear by God and by 
Melchom ; and to sum up, it is a true sign that such 

40 o St. Francis de Sales. 

ravishments and such extasies are only amusements 
and deceits of the evil spirit. 

Blessed are they who live a superhuman, extatic 
life, raised above themselves, though not ravished 
above themselves in prayer ! Many saints are in 
heaven who were never in extasy or ravishment of 
contemplation ; for of how many martyrs and great 
saints does history tell us that they have never had 
in prayer any other privilege than devotion and fer- 
vour ! But there was never a saint but has had the 
extasy of life and operation, overcoming himself and 
his natural inclinations. In fact, there have been 
seen in our age several persons who thought them- 
selves, and every one thought with them, very often 
divinely ravished in extasy ; and at last it was dis- 
covered that really it was only diabolical illusions 
and amusements. 


To a Protestant who had asked to have a 
Conference with Him. 

Sir, — My design was not to enter into any conference 
with you ; the necessity of my near departure entirely 
took away the opportunity of it. If conferences are 
not well regulated, and accompanied by leisure and 
convenience for carrying them through to the eud, 
they are without fruit. I only look at the glory 

Various Letters. 401 

of God, and the salvation of my neighbour. When 
this cannot be procured, I hold no conference. 

You well know what I mean when I speak of the 
Book of Machabees. There are two ; and two make 
one volume. I will not take the trouble to say more, 
for I do not quibble. 

It is true that we say and insist on it, and you 
deny and regret it. The Church has always been 
fought against in the same way ; but your negations 
ought to be proved by the same sort of proofs as you 
demand from us ; it is for the denier to prove, when 
he denies against possession, and when his negation is 
to be the foundation of his argument. Jurisconsults 
testify it to you ; the maxim is taken from them ; 
you will not refuse its application. 

Prayer for the dead has been used by all the 
ancient Church, Calvin himself acknowledges it ; the 
Fathers have proved it by the authority of the Book 
of Machabees, and the general usage of their pre- 
decessors. See the end and the beginning of St. 
Augustine's book on this subject : we walk in their 
steps and follow their traces. 

Neither the book of Machabees, nor the Apocalypse 
were recognized so soon as the others ; both, however, 
were equally so at the Council of Carthage, at which 
St. Augustine assisted. Some canonical books were 
lawfully doubted of for a time, which may not be 
doubted of now : the passages I have cited are so 
express, that they cannot be turned to another sense. 
I conjure you by the bowels of Jesus Christ, to 

D D 

402 St. Francis de Sales. 

be willing henceforth to read the Scriptures and 
the ancient Fathers with a mind dispossessed of 
prejudices ; you will see that the principal and 
essential features of the face of the ancient Church 
are preserved in that which is now. 

I am told that God has placed in you many gifts of 
Nature ; do not abuse them so as to keep away those 
of grace ; and consider attentively the true bearing of 
the matter about which you want to confer. If 
opportunity allowed, be sure that I would not refuse, 
any more than I would refuse Messieurs of Geneva, 
my neighbours, if they desired it on proper terms. 

It would not be possible with profit to have con- 
ferences in writing; we are too far apart. And 
further, what could we write that has not beeu 
repeated a hundred times ? Give, for your salvation's 
sake, attentive meditation to your reasons and to the 
ancient Fathers ; and I will give my poor and feeble 
prayers ; these I will present to the mercy of our 
Saviour, to whom and for whose love I offer you my 
service, and am your, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

The Saint deplores the misfortune of a lady who had fallen 
into heresy. 

2nd December , 1609. 
O God ! What a misfortune ! This poor thing then 
means to be lost with her husband ! The Confessions 

Various Letters. 403 

of St. Augustine, and the chapter I showed her when 
I passed that way, ought to have been enough to 
hold her back, if she is only driven to the precipice 
by the considerations she mentions. God, at the day 
of his great Judgment, will justify himself against her, 
and will make clearly appear why she has abandoned 
him. Ah ! one abyss calls upon another. I will 
pray God for her, and especially on the feast of 
St. Thomas, whom I will conjure by his happy 
infidelity, to intercede for this poor soul so unhappily 

What thanksgivings do we owe to this great God, 
my dear child ? To think that I, so many ways 
tempted, in a frail and unstable age, to surrender 
myself to heresy, and that I have not cared so 
much as even to look upon it except to spit in 
its face, and that my feeble and young soul, going 
through all the most infected books should not have 
had the least emotion of this miserable evil ! O God ! 
when I think of this benefit, I tremble with horror at 
my ingratitude. 

But let us calm ourselves in the loss of these souls ; 
for Jesus Christ, to whom they were more dear, would 
not let them go after their own sense, if his greater 
glory did not require it. It is true we ought to 
regret them and sigh after them, like David, over 
Absalom hanged and lost. There was no great harm 
in that indignation you showed when speaking with 
her. Alas ! my child, sometimes we cannot contain 
ourselves in occurrences so deserving of abhorrence. 

d d 2 

404 5V. Francis de Sales. 

The other day, at an early hour, a very learned 
man, and one who had been a minister for a long time, 
came to see me, and telling me how God had with- 
drawn him from heresy : — I had for instructor, he 
said, the most learned bishop in the world. I 
expected he would name some one of the great repu- 
tations of this age : he said, St. Augustine. His 
name is CorDeille, and he is just now printing a 
splendid book for the Faith. He is not yet received 
into the Church, and has given me a hope that I shall 
receive him. This good man went off contented with 
me, saying that I had lovingly entertained him, and 
that I had the true spirit of the Christian. We must 
conclude that these ancient Fathers have a spirit 
which breathes against heresy, even in the point's 
where they are not disputing against it. 

"When I was at Paris, and preaching in the Queen's 
Chapel on The Day of Judgment (it was no sermon of 
controversy), a young lady was present out of curiosity, 
named Madame de Perdreauville ; she was caught in 
the meshes, and on this sermon she took a resolution 
to get instructed, and three weeks afterwards she 
brought all her family to confession to me, and I was 
godfather to them all in Confirmation. Do you see ? 
That sermon, which was not made against heresy, 
still breathed against heresy : for God on that 
occasion gave me that spirit in favour of those souls. 

Since then I have always said that he who preaches 
with love preaches sufficiently against heretics, though 
he say not a single word of controversy against them. 

Various Letters. 405 

And this is the same as to say that in general all the 
writings of the Fathers are suitable for the conversion 
of heretics. 

O my God, dear child, how many perfections do I 
wish you ! One for all, unity, simplicity. Live in 
peace and joyous, or at least contented, in all that 
God wishes and wills to do in your heart. I am in 
him and by him all yours. Your, &c. 

To his Brother, Coadjutor of Geneva. 

About mie of their friends who had turned Galvinist and 
gone into England. 

Annecy, 21st November, 1620. 
Here is a letter which I have opened without per- 
ceiving that it was not for me. O God ! my dearest 
brother, what anguish did the reading of it cause to 
my soul ! Certainly it is quite true that in all my 
life I have not had so painful a surprise. Is it 
possible that this soul can so have gone to ruin ? He 
used to say so distinctly to me that he would never be 
aught else than child of the Roman Church ; though 
he thought the Pope exceeded the limits of justice, to 
extend those of his authority. Meantime, after having 
cried out so strongly that it did not behove that the 
supreme Pastor, the ruler of the Church, should 
undertake to release subjects from the obedience of 

406 St. Francis de Sales. 

the supreme prince of the commonwealth, whatever 
evil this prince might do ; — he himself, for these 
pretended abuses, goes and becomes a rebel against 
this supreme Pastor; or (to speak after his language), 
against all the pastors of the Church in which he has 
been baptized and brought up ! 

He who did not find clearness enough, he used to 
say, in the passages of Scripture to prove the authority 
of St. Peter over the rest of Christians, how has he 
gone to place himself under the ecclesiastical authority 
of a king, whose power the Scripture has never autho- 
rized save for civil matters? 

If he found that the Pope was exceeding the limits 
of his power by claiming some power over the temporal 
authority of princes, how will he find that the 
king, under whom he has gone to live, exceeds 
the limits of his authority, by claiming rights over the 
spiritual ? 

Is it possible that what brought back and kept St. 
Augustine to the Church has not been able to retain 
this spirit ? Is it possible that the reverence for an- 
tiquity and rejection of novelty has not had the power 
to stop him? 

Is it possible that he has believed that all the Church 
has so greatly erred, and that Huguenots or English 
Calvinists have so happily met with the truth every- 
where, and not erred in the understanding of the 
Scripture ? Whence can such universal knowledge of 
the sense of Scripture have come into those heads in 
the matters of our controversies, as that everywhere 

Various Letters. 407 

they should be right, and we everywhere wrong, so 
that he must leave us to cling to them? 

Alas ! my dear brother, you will soon perceive the 
trouble there is in my spirit, when I say all this to you. 
The modesty with which he behaves in writing to you, 
the friendship he begs from you with so much affec- 
tion, and even submission, has made a great wound of 
condolence in my spirit, which cannot rest when it sees 
the soul of this friend perishing. 

I was on the eve of getting a place made for him 
here, and M. N. had word to treat with him about it; 
and now there he is, separated from the rest of the 
world by the sea, and from the Church by schism and 
error ! However, God will draw his glory from this 

I have a particular inclination for that island and 
its king, and I unceasingly recommend its conversion 
to the Divine Majesty. I have confidence that I shall 
be heard with so many souls that sigh after this grace; 
and henceforth I will pray even more ardently, me- 
thinks, in consideration of that soul. 

O my dearest brother, blessed are the true children 
of the Holy Church, in which have died all the true 
children of God. I assure you, my heart has a con- 
tinual extraordinary throbbing on account of this fall, 
and a new courage to serve better the Church of the 
living God, and the living God of the Church. 

Meanwhile we must keep this miserable news secret, 
though it is sure soon to be spread about on account 
of the number of the relatives and friends of him who 

40 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

gives it you. And if you write to him, as he seems 
to ask, through M. Gabaleon, assure him that all the 
waters of England can never quench the flames of my 
affection, so long as I can keep any hope of his return 
to the Church, and to the way of eternal life. 


{From the original Latin.) 

To his Holiness Paul V. 

On the Veneraole Aneina. 

I received a very great joy and satisfaction when I 
heard that there would shortly appear the life and the 
details of all the actions of the most illustrious and 
most reverend Father and Lord, Juvenal Aneina. For 
since bishops, as said the great Bishop of Nazianzum, 
St. Gregory, are the painters of virtue, and as they 
have to paint so excellent a thing by their words and 
their works as accurately as possible, I do not doubt 
that in the life of our most illustrious and admirable 
Juvenal, we shall see a complete and perfect image of 
Christian justice, that is, of all virtues. 

And, indeed, during the space of four or five months 
that I was negotiating at Rome the affairs of this See, 
by the command of my most devout and virtuous pre- 
decessor, Monseigneur Claude de Granier, I saw many 
men excelling in sanctity and doctrine, who were by 
their works illustrating The City, and in the City the 

Variotis Letters. 409 

world (in urbe orbem) ; but amongst all these great 
personages, the virtue of this one particularly struck 
the eyes of my spirit. 

For I admired, in the profound science of this man 
which embraced so many different subjects and with 
so full an erudition, a corresponding contempt of self; 
in the perfect gravity of his appearance, of his dis- 
course and of his manners, as much also of grace and 
modesty ; in his great solicitude for devotion, an equal 
remembrance of politeness and sweetness : so that he 
did not tread down pride by another pride, as happens 
with many, but by a true humility ; and he did not 
display his charity by knowledge which puffeth up, but 
made his knowledge fruitful by the charity which 
edifieth. He was a man beloved of God and men, be- 
cause he loved them with the purest charity. Now, I 
call purest charity that in which can scarce be found 
the smallest trace of self-love or philautia, a rare and 
exquisite charity, which is hardly met with even among 
those who make profession of piety, wherefore from far 
and from the uttermost coasts is the price thereof.* 

I have noticed that when the occasion presented 
itself, this man of God was accustomed so openly, 
frankly, and lovingly to praise the different institutes, 
virtues, teaching, and ways of serving God, of various 
religions, ecclesiastics, and laymen, as if he were a 
member of their congregations or meetings. And 
whilst he embraced with most sweet and entirely filial 
heart his' own and his most beloved Congregation of 
* Prov. xxxi. 10. 

4*0 St. Francis de Sales. 

the Oratory, he did not on that account more coldly, 
as often happens, or more weakly love, esteem, or 
extol other houses or assemblies of persons serving 

This was why, looking only at the greater glory of 
God, he most lovingly guided with his own hand and 
influence, into the society which he thought most 
suited to them, those who, touched interiorly with 
heavenly love, desired to follow the course of a purer 
life, and sought his counsel : a man, in sooth, who 
was neither of Paul, nor of Cephas, nor of Apollo, 
but of Jesus Christ,* and who listened not to those 
cold words, mine and thine, either in temporals or 
in spirituals; but did all things sincerely in Christ 
and for Christ. 

Of this perfect charity of this Apostolic man I 
have an example now at hand. Just lately there 
died, in the College of the Clerks Regular of St. Paul 
in this city of Annecy, a most religious man, William 
Cramoisy, of Paris ; with whom when I was once 
talking, in an ordinary way, I happened to mention 
the name of our most Reverend Juvenal Ancina. And 
he, suddenly filled with joy, said : " How grateful, 
how precious to me should be the memory of this 
man ! For he as it were brought me forth again in 
Christ." And when he saw that I had a desire of 
hearing the whole thing fully, he thus continued: 

" When I was twenty-four years old, Divine Pro- 
vidence had already attracted me to the religious life 
* i Cor. iii. 

Various Letters. 41 1 

by many inspirations ; but I felt myself, from my 
weakness, so agitated by contrary temptations, that 
altogether despondent in my soul, I was seriously 
thinking of marriage; and the affair had already 
gone so far among my friends that it seemed almost 

" But how great is the benignity of God ! When 
I entered the Oratory of Vallicelle, what should I 
hear but Father Juvenal Ancina preaching to the 
people, first on the inconstancy and weakness of the 
human heart, then on the magnanimity with which 
divine instincts are to be put in execution. He spoke 
with such skill of language and argument, that he 
seemed to shake off as with his hand the miserable 
slothfulness of my heart : so that at length, lifting up 
his voice as a trumpet, he compelled me to surrender. 
Wherefore, as soon as ever the sermon was finished, 
anxious and hesitating I go to him in a corner of the 
oratory where he was praying, as I think, for the 
happy issue of his sermon, and expose to him what 
was taking place in my soul. 

" He said : ' This matter must be treated more fully, 
and there is not time now, as the day grows late. So 
to-morrow, if you will come to me, we can more con- 
veniently go into everything. Meantime, and this is the 
chief point, by prayer invoke the heavenly light/ 

" So I went next day, and sincerely declared all 
that I was doing about my vocation, on either side ; 
and particularly that I was chiefly afraid of the 
religious life because I was weak and delicate. 

4 1 2 St. Francis de Sales. 

" When lie had attentively heard and weighed all, 
that servant of God said : l On this very account it is, by 
Divine Providence, that there are in the Church various 
orders of religious — namely, that any one who could 
not give his life to those orders which are austere and 
devoted to exterior penance, may enter the milder. 
And here you have the Congregation of Clerks 
Regular of St. Paul, in which the discipline of 
religious perfection excellently nourishes; still it is 
not weighed down by any bodily labour so great but 
that by almost any man its customs and constitutions 
may be quite easily observed, with God's favour : go 
to their college, and see for yourself whether it is not 
so/ Nor from that time did the man of God cease 
his efforts till he had seen me enrolled and joined to 
this most venerable Congregation.''' 

From which it is easy to understand how great was 
the power of the great Juvenal Ancina in preaching, 
his wisdom in counselling, and his perfect and con- 
stant charity in helping his neighbour. For this very 
thing which I have just mentioned by way of example, 
I and several others know to have been done; and 
indeed, for myself, I openly declare that by the many 
letters which I have received from him through his 
affection to me, I have been vehemently united to the 
love of Christian virtue. 

But after he was transferred from the excellent life 
of the Congregation of the Oratory to the most holy 
Episcopal office, then did his virtue begin to shine more 
splendidly, and more clearly, as was fitting, to send 

Various Letters, 413 

forth its rays, as a burning and shining light* placed 
on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are 
in the house* 

And, indeed, when in 1603, I went a little out of 
my direct journey, in order to salute him, at Carmag- 
nola, a town of his diocese of Saluces, where he was 
then fulfilling his duty of pastoral visitation, I saw 
what love, mingled with veneration, his piety and 
wealth of virtues had excited in those people. For 
when they learnt that I had arrived, I cannot suffi- 
ciently express the ardour of soul with which, by a 
certain friendly violence, they drew me from the 
public hospice into the house of some noble citizen, 
saying that they would like, if they only could do it, 
to lodge in the midst of their bosoms a man who had 
gone out of his way for the sake of honouring their 
most beloved pastor. 

Nor could they ever satisfy themselves in joyously 
expressing by words, and looks, the satisfaction felt at 
the presence of such a pastor ; whilst he, with a certaiu 
most dignified familiarity, and most sweet good-will 
towards all, draw to himself at once their eyes and 
souls, and as a glorious and loving-hearted shepherd, 
called his own sheep by name% to verdant pastures, and 
with his hands full of the salt of wisdom, enticed them, 
nay, drew them, to come after him. 

In fine, I will say one word ; may I say it without 

* John v. 35. \ Mat. v. 15. 

J John x. 3. 

414 St* Francis de Sales. 

offence ? I do not remember that I have seen a man 
more copiously, more splendidly adorned with the 
gifts which the Apostle so earnestly desired for Apos- 
tolic men. 




Monsieur de Boisy, Count de Sales, to his Son 
St. Francis de Sales. 

1 595- 
I cannot but praise your zeal,* my son; but I do uot 
see that it can end in any good. You have already 
done more than was needed. The most sensible and 
the most prudent people say loudly that your perse- 
verance is turning into a foolish obstinacy, and that it 
is tempting God to make a longer trial of your 
strength, and, in fine, that it is necessary to force these 
people to receive the faith simply by the cannon's 
mouth. For which reason I conjure you to allay, as 
soon as you possibly can, our disquiets and alarms, 
and to return to your family which ardently desires 
you, and above all to your mother, who is dying 
of grief at not seeing you, and of fear to lose you 
* In his missionary work for the Chablais. 

4 1 6 St. Francis de Sales. 

altogether. But if my prayers are of no avail, I order 
you, in my quality of father, to return hither imme- 

St. Francis de Sales to his Father. 

He excuses himself for being unable to return. 
My Honoured Father, — Whatever respect I have 
for your orders, I cannot help telling you that it is 
impossible for me to obey them. You are not 
ignorant from whom, under God, and on God's part, 
I have received my mission. Am I able to withdraw 
myself from it without his leave ? Apply then, 
if you please, to his Most Reverend Lordship : I am 
ready to quit, as soon as he speaks. In any case, I 
beseech you to consider those words of our Saviour : 
He who shall persevere to the end shall be saved ;* and 
these others of St. Paul : He is not crowned that 
strivethj except he strive lawfully.f Our tribulation, 
which is momentary and light, worketh an eternal 
weight of glory. % 

* Mat. x. 22. f 2 Tim. ii. 5. 

J 2 Cor. iv. 17. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 417 


To Madame the Countess of Sales, his Mother. 

lie consoles her for his absence by the hope of seeing him 
again soon. 

Ma y, J599- 
I write you this, my dear and good mother, as 
I mount my horse for Chambery. This note is not 
sealed, and I have no anxiety about it; for, by the 
grace of God, we are no longer in that trying time 
during which we had to hide ourselves in order 
to write to one another, and to say some words of 
friendship and consolation. Vive Dieu, my good 
mother; truly the remembrance of that time always 
produces in my soul some holy and sweet thought. 
Always preserve joy in our Lord, my good mother, 
and be assured that your poor son is well, by the 
Divine mercy, and is getting ready to go and see you 
the soonest, and stay with you the longest possible, for 
I am all yours, and you know that I am your son. 

To Madame de Chantal. 

He speaks to her of the fruit of his Lent-preaching at Annecy, 

in 1607. 

Annecy, about the Sth April, 1607. 

Look you, my dear child, you know welj that Lent 

is the harvest-time of souls. I had not preached a 

e e 

4 1 8 St. Francis de Sales, 

Lent in this dear town up to this, since I had been 
made bishop, except the first, in which I was looked at 
to see what I should do ; and I had enough to do to 
take up my position, and see after the general affairs 
of the diocese which had just freshly fallen on my 
shoulders. Now, know that I make my harvest, with 
tears partly of joy and partly of love. O my God I 
to whom should I say these things, if not to my dear 
child ? 

I have just found in our sacred nets a fish which I 
had so longed for these four years. I must confess 
the truth, I have been very glad, I say extremely glad 
over it. I recommend her to your prayers, that our 
Lord may establish in her heart the resolutions he 
has put therein. It is a lady, quite a golden lady, 
and magnificently fitted to serve her Saviour ; and if 
she persevere she will do so with fruit. 

It is seven or eight days since I have thought of 
myself, or seen myself except on the surface ; for so 
many souls have addressed themselves to me that 
I might see and serve them, that I have had no 
leisure to think of my own. It is true that, to 
console you, I am bound to say that I still feel 
my spirit whole within my heart, for which I praise 
God; for in truth this sort of occupation is extremely 
profitable to me. How do I wish that it may be very 
useful to those for whom I labour ! 

Live, my dear child, with our sweet Saviour, in his 
arms, during this holy Passion-tide; may he for ever 
repose between your breasts, as a sacred bundle of 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 4 1 9 

myrrh ; it will be to you a sovereign epithem for all 
your palpitations of heart. Oh ! this morning (for I 
must further say this), presenting the Son to the 
Father, I said to him in my soul : I offer you your 
heart, O Eternal Father ! deign in its favour to 
receive also ours. I named yours, and that of 
the young servant of God of whom I spoke, and some 
others. I did not know which to push the more 
forward, whether the new for its need, or yours for 
my affection. Think what a struggle ! 

So, then, remain always in peace in the arms of 
our Saviour, who loves you so dearly, and whose sole 
love ought to serve us as a general rendezvous for all 
our consolations. This holy love, my child, in which 
ours is founded, enrooted, increased, and nourished, 
will be eternally perfect and enduring. I am he 
whom God has given you irrevocably. 

To the Same. 

lie encourages her, by his example, patiently to suffer, that her 
gentleness, in domestic contradictions, should he put down 
to dissimulation. 

Holy Saturday, i/\.th April, 1607. 

O, my dearest Child, here we are at the end of the 
holy Lent and at the glorious resurrection ! Ah ! how 
I desire that we should be raised up again with our 
Lord ! I am now going to beg this of him, as I do 

e e 2 

420 St Francis de Sales. 

daily ; for I never applied my communions so earnestly 
to your soul as I have done this Lent, and with a 
particular sentiment of trust in this immense good- 
ness, that it will be favourable to us. 

Yes; my dear child, we must have good courage. 
It is no harm for your patience in bearing domestic 
contradiction to be attributed to dissimulation. And 
do you think that I am exempt from such attacks ? 
But it is the truth, I only laugh about them when I 
remember them, which is but rarely. O God ! indeed 
am I not insensible to other accidents and evil insinua- 
tions; how sensitive, am I to the injurious and bad 
opinions which may be held about me ! It is true 
that they are neither stinging nor in great number; 
but still I believe that if there were many more of 
them, I should not fail to bear them, by the assistance 
of the Holy Spirit. Oh ! courage, my very dear and 
well-beloved child. What is needful for us is, that 
our little portion of ointment should offend the nostrils 
of the world. 

To God, my dearest child ; to God let us belong, in 
time and in eternity ! Let us ever unite our little 
crosses to his great one ! 

Yesterday (for I must say one more word to you) 
after the sermon in the town at which I assisted, I 
preached a sermon on the Passion before our religious 
of Sainte-Claire. They had begged this very hard of 
me. When it came to the part in which I was con- 
templating how the cross was laid on the shoulders of 
our Lord, and how he embraced it, and when I said 

Letters of the Saint about himself, 421 

that in his cross and with it he acknowledged and 
took to himself all our little crosses, and kissed them 
all to sanctify them : — and when I came to say in par- 
ticular that he kissed our drynesses, our contradictions, 
our bitternesses, I assure you, my dear child, that I 
was much consoled, and had difficulty to contain my 

For what reason do I say this? I know not, 
except that I could not help saying it to you. I had 
much consolation in this little sermon, at which twenty- 
five or thirty devout souls of the town assisted, besides 
those of the monastery : so that I had every oppor- 
tunity to give the rein to my poor little affections on 
a worthy subject. May the good and gentle Jesus be 
for ever the king of our hearts ! Amen. 

I love our Celse-Benigne and the little Francon.* 
May God be for ever their God ; and the angel who 
has guarded their mother bless them for ever ! Yes, 
my child, for it has been a great angel who has given 
you your good desires. So may he give you the 
execution of them and perseverance. Vive Jesus, 
who has made me and keeps me for ever all yours. 

* Children of Madame de Chantal. 

422 St. Francis de Sales. 


To the Same. 

He informs her that he is going to visit his diocese ; he congratu- 
lates her on her love for sicknesses; he promises to write often. 

My dearest Child, — I have your letter of the 6th June, 
and I am just now getting on horseback for the Visita- 
tion, which will last five months ; judge for yourself 
whether I am ready to go into Burgundy, for my dear 
child, this act of visitation is a necessary one for me, 
and one of the chief of my charge. I start with great 
courage, and from this morning I have felt a par- 
ticular consolation in undertaking it, though before, 
during several days, I had had a thousand vain appre- 
hensions and sadnesses about it. These, however, only 
affected the skin of my heart, and not the interior; 
it was like those little shiverings which come at the 
first feeling of cold. But, as I have said to you 
many times, our good God treats me as a very delicate 
child, for he exposes me to no rude shock. He 
knows my weakness, and that I am not one to stand 
such great trials. I tell you in this way my little 
affairs, because it does me much good. Oh ! how I con- 
gratulate you for truly loving your tertian fever; for 
my part I figure to myself that if we had our sense 
of smell but a little refined, we should smell our 
afflictions all bemusked, and perfumed with a thousand 
sweet odours ; for although of themselves they are 
of unpleasant smell, still, coming out of the hand, — 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 423 

nay, rather out of the bosom and heart of the Spouse, 
who is but perfume and balm itself, — they reach us 
the same, full of all sweetness. Keep, my dear child, 
keep your heart very large before God ; walk ever 
joyously in his presence, he loves us, he cherishes us, 
he is all ours, this sweet Jesus. Let us be all his, let 
us only love him, only cherish him, and then, let 
darkness, let tempests surround us, let us have the 
waters of bitterness up to our chin, so long as he 
holds our garments there is nought to fear. I will 
often write to you, my dear child, and a thousand 
times I will bless you with the benedictions which 
God has given to me. Live joyous, whether in health 
or sickness, and clasp tightly your Spouse on your 
heart. My dear child, my dearest child, to whom I 
am what his divine majesty wills me to be, and which 
cannot be said. Vive Jesus, for ever ! Amen. 

To the Same. 

Sentiments which he felt in the procession of the Blessed 

O God ! how full is my heart of things to tell you, my 
child, for to-day is the day of the Church's great feast, 
in which, bearing our Saviour in the procession, he 
has by his grace given me a thousand sweet thoughts, 
amidst which I have had difficulty to keep back my 

424 St. Francis de Sales. 

O God ! I put in comparison the High Priest of the 
old law with myself, and considered how this High 
Priest carried a rich pectoral on his breast, adorned with 
twelve precious stones, and on it appeared the names 
of the twelve tribes of Israel ; but I found my pectoral 
far more rich, though it was composed of only one 
stone, that Oriental pearl, which the strong mother 
conceived in her chaste womb, by the blessed dew of 
heaven ; for, you see, I was holding this Divine Sacra- 
ment clasped tightly on my breast, and I considered 
how the names of the children of Israel were all marked 
on it, yes, the names of the daughters especially, and 
the name of one still more. 

The falcon and the sparrow of St. Joseph came to 
my memory, and it seemed to me that I was a knight 
of the Order of God, bearing on my breast the same 
Son who lives eternally on his. Ah ! how would I 
have wished that my heart should be opened to receive 
this precious Saviour, as was that of the gentleman 
whose history I told you.* But alas ! I had not the 
knife which was needed to cut it open, for it is only 
to be opened by love ; I have indeed had great desires 
of this love, and I speak for oar indivisible heart. 
This is what I can say to you. Live all in God and 
for God. I am with him absolutely yours. 

* See Love of God, Book VII. cb. 12. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 425 

To the Same. (Madame de Chantal.) 

Wliy he was strong before great attacks. His relish for 

The first Thursday, 6th September, 1607. 

How many things, my child, should I have to say to 
you, if I had the leisure ! for I have received your 
letter of St. Anne's day, written in a particular style, 
and one "which appeals to the heart, and requires an 
ample response. 

You are going on well, my child ; only continue : 
have patience with your interior cross. Ah ! our 
Saviour allows it you, that one day you may know 
better what you are by yourself. Do you not see, my 
child, that the trouble of the day is made clear by the 
repose of the night ? An evident sign that our soul 
has need only to resign itself entirely to its God, and 
to make herself indifferent in serving him, whether 
among thorns, or among roses. Would you really 
believe, my best child, that this very night I have had 
a little disquietude about something which certainly 
did not deserve that I should even think of it ! 
However, it has made me lose two good hours of 
my sleep, a thing which rarely happens to me. But, 
further, I was laughing myself at my weakness ; and 
my mind saw as clearly as the day that it was all the 
disquietude of a mere little child ; yet was there no 
means to find the way out of it : and I knew well that 

426 St. Francis de Sales. 

God wanted to make me understand that if assaults 
and great attacks do not trouble me, as in truth they 
do not, it is not by my own strength, but by the grace 
of my Saviour j and I lie not when I say that I feel 
myself consoled by the experimental knowledge which 
God gives me of myself. 

I assure you that I am very firm in our resolutions, 
and that they please me much. I cannot say many 
things to you, for this good father starts in an hour, 
and I have Mass to say ; I will leave then all the rest. 
You gave me great pleasure in one of your letters by 
asking me straight out, whether I was making my 
prayer. O my child ! act so ; ask me always the state 
of my soul ; for I know well that your curiosity in this 
comes from the ardour of the charity which you bear 
me. Yes, my child, by the grace of God I can say 
now better than before, that I make mental prayer, 
because I do not fail a single day in this ; except some- 
times on a Sunday, on account of confessions ; and God 
gives me the strength to get up sometimes before day- 
break for this purpose, when I foresee the multitude of 
the embarrassments of the day, and I do it all gaily; 
and meseems I have affection for it, and would greatly 
wish to be able to make it twice in the day; but it is 
not possible for me. 

Vive Jesus ! Vive Marie ! Adieu, my dear child. 
God has made me, without end, without reserve, and 
beyond comparison, yours, &c. 

Letters of the Sai?it about himself. 427 


To the Same. 

On the death of Ids young sister, Jane de Sales, who died 
in the arms of Madame de Chantal. 

2nd November, 1607. 
Ah, well ! my dear daughter ; and is it not reasonable 
that the most holy will of God should be done, as 
much in the things we cherish as in others ? But I 
must hasten to tell you that my good mother has 
drunk this chalice with an entirely Christian con- 
stancy, and her virtue, of which I had always a high 
opinion, has by much exceeded my estimation. 

On Sunday morning, she sent for my brother the 
Canon ; and because she had seen him very sad, and 
all the other brothers as well, the night before, she 
began by saying to him : " I have dreamt all the night 
that my daughter Jane is dead. Tell me, I beseech 
you, is it not true ?" My brother, who was awaiting 
my arrival to break it to her (for I was on my Visita- 
tion), seeing this good opening for presenting the 
chalice to her, and as she was lying in bed : " It is 
true, mother/' he said, and no more, for he had not 
strength to add anything. " God's will be done/'' said 
my good mother, and wept abundantly for some space ; 
and then, calling her Nicole, she said : " I want to 
get up and go pray God in the chapel for my poor 
daughter/' and immediately did what she said. Not a 
single word of impatience, not a look of disquiet ; but 

4 2 8 . 6V. Francis de Sales. 

blessings of God, and a thousand resignations in her 
will. Never did I see a calmer grief ; such tears that 
it was a marvel ; but all from simple tenderness of heart, 
without any sort of passion, yet it was her dear child. 
Ah ! then, this mother, should I not love her well ? 

Yesterday, All Saints' Day, I was the grand con- 
fessor of the family, and with the Most Holy Sacra- 
ment I sealed the heart of this mother against all 
sadness. For the rest, she thanks you infinitely for 
the care and maternal love which you have shown 
towards this deceased little one, with as much obliga- 
tion to you as if God had preserved her by your means. 
The brothers (la fraternite) say as much, who in truth 
have testified extremely good dispositions in this 
affliction, especially our Boisy, whom I love the more 
for it. 

I well know that you would gladly ask me : And 
you, how did you bear yourself? Yes, for you want 
to know what I am doing. Ah ! my child, I am as 
human as I can be ; my heart was grieved more than I 
should ever have thought. But the truth is, that the 
pain to my mother and your pain have much swollen 
mine ; for I have feared for your heart, and my 
mother's. But as for the rest, I will always take the 
side of Divine Providence : it does all well, and dis- 
poses of all things for the best. What a happiness 
for this child to have been taken away, lest wickedness 
should alter her understanding ,* and to have left this 
miry place before she had got soiled therein ! We 
* Wisdom, iv. n. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 429 

gather strawberries and cherries before bergamots and 
pippins (capendus), but it is because their season re- 
quires it. Let God gather what he has planted in his 
orchard : he takes everything in its season. 

You may think, my dear daughter, how tenderly I 
loved this little child. I had brought her forth to her 
Saviour, for I had baptized her with my own hand, 
some fourteen years ago. She was the first creature 
on whom I exercised my order of priesthood. I was 
her spiritual father, and fully promised myself one 
day to make out of her something good. And what 
made her very dear to me (and I speak the truth) was 
that she was yours. But still, my dear child, in the 
midst of my heart of flesh, which has had such keen 
feelings about this death, I perceive very sensibly a 
certain sweetness, tranquillity, and a certain gentle 
repose of my spirit in the Divine Providence, which 
spreads abroad in my heart a great contentment in its 

Here, then, are my movements represented as far 
as I can. But you, what do you mean, when you tell 
me that you found yourself on this occasion such as 
you were ? Tell me, I beseech you : was not our 
needle always turning to its bright pole, to its holy 
star, to its God ? Your heart, what has it been 
doing? Have you scandalized those who saw you in 
this matter and in this event ? Now this, my dear 
child, tell me clearly ; for, do you see, it was not right 
to offer either your own life or that of one of your 
other children, in exchange for that of the departed one. 

430 St. Francis de Sales. 

No, my dear child, we must not only consent for 
God to strike us, but we must let it be in the place 
which he pleases. We must leave the choice to God, 
for it belongs to him. David offered his life for that 
of his Absalom, but it was because he died reprobate 
(perdu) ; in such case we must beseech God; but in 
temporal loss, O my daughter ! let God touch and 
strike whatever string of our lute he chooses, he will 
never make but a good harmony. Lord Jesus ! with- 
out reserve, without if, without but, without exception, 
without limitation, your will be done ; in father, in 
mother, in daughter, in all and everywhere ! Ah ! I do 
not say that we must not wish and pray for their pre- 
servation ; but we must not say to God, leave this and 
take that ; my dear child, we must not say so. And 
we will not. No, no ; no, my child, by help of the 
grace of his Divine goodness. 

I seem to see you, my dear child, with your vigor- 
ous heart, which loves and wills powerfully. I con- 
gratulate it thereon : for what are these half-dead 
hearts good for? But it behoves that we make a 
particular exercise, once every week, of willing and 
loving the will of God more vigorously, (I go further) 
more tenderly, more amorously, than anything in the 
world ; and this not only in bearable occurrences, but 
in the most unbearable. You will find more than I 
can describe in the little book of the Spiritual Combat, 
which I have so often recommended to you. 

Ah ! my child, to speak truth, this lesson is high ; 
but also God, for whom we learn it, is the Most 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 43 1 

High. You have, my child, four children ; you have 
a father-in-law, a dear brother, and then again a 
spiritual father : all this is very dear to you, and 
rightly ; for God wills it. Well, now, if God took all 
this from you, would you not still have enough in 
having God ? Is that not all, in your estimation ? 
If we had nought but God, would it not be enough ? 

Alas ! the Son of God, my dear Jesus, had scarce 
so much on the cross, when, having given up and left 
all for love and obedience to his Father, he was as if 
left and given up by him ; and, as the torrent of his 
passion swept off his bark to desolation, hardly did 
he perceive the needle, which was not only turned 
towards, but inseparably joined with, his Father. 
Yes, he was one with his Father, but the inferior part 
knew and perceived nothing of it whatever : a trial 
which the divine goodness has made and will make 
in no other soul, for it could not bear it. 

Well then, my child, if God takes everything from 
us, he will never take himself from us, so long as we 
do not will it. But more; all our losses and our 
separations are but for this little moment. Oh ! 
truly, for so little a time as this, we ought to have 

I pour myself out, meseems, a little too much. 
But why ? I follow my heart, which never feels it 
says too much with this dear daughter. I send you 
an escutcheon to satisfy you; and since it pleases you 
to have the funeral services where this child rests in 
the body, I am willing; but without great pomp, 

43 2 5*/. Francis de Sales. 

beyond what Christian custom requires : what good is 
the rest ? You will afterwards draw out a list of all 
these expenses, and those of her illness, and send it to 
me, for I wish it so ; and meantime we shall beseech 
God here for this soul, and will properly do its little 
honours. We shall not send for its quarantal '* no, 
my child, so much ceremony (mystere) is not becom- 
ing for a child who has had no rank in this world ; 
it would get one laughed at. You know me : I love 
simplicity both in life and in death. I shall be very 
glad to know the name and the title of the church 
where she is. This is all on this subject. Yours. &c. 

To the Same. 

He sends copies of the Introduction to the Devout Life 
for several persons. 

End of February, 1609. 

My God ! how welcome will you be, my dear child ; 

and how dearly do I feel my soul embrace yours. 

Start then on the first fine day you see, after your 

horse has rested, which, doubtless, cannot well have 

been sent back to you till three days ago, on account 

of the rains which have fallen in this country. I 

wish that you may have a good and happy journey, 

and that my little daughter may not suffer from the 

fatigue of the road, but arriving in good time in the 

* Forty days' mind. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 433 

evening, and sleeping well, I hope she will be all 

M. de Ballon so greatly desires that you should 
make your stay with him, that I am forced to desire 
it also, for the good friendship he bears us. 

Madame du Puits-d'Orbe had written to say she 
wanted to come with you ; but the season is not 
proper for her, nor could I wish to have her in 
so inconvenient a time as Lent. I wrote to her then 
to wait for the true Spring, and to come in a litter, 
so that if one of her sisters wishes to accompany her, 
she may be able to do so without the dread of having 
to come on horseback. I send the one book for her, 
the other for Mademoiselle de Traves, according 
to your desire. The Father de Mandi asked me for 
one : if you give him the one you have, I will give 
you a better one here ; besides, we must console him. 
I should like to send some to several persons ; but I 
assure you that only thirty altogether have come into 
this country, and I have not been able to supply a 
tenth part of those to whom I ought to give them. 
It is true that I am not in very great trouble about it, 

because I know that there are more yonder than here. 

Still I thought I ought to send one to M. de Chantal, 

and that he would be offended if I did not ; so here 

it is. 

What more have I to say to you, my dear child ? 

A thousand things, but I have not leisure for them, as 

I want Claude to start without any more waiting. 

Only be sure that I am quite full of joy and satisfac- 

F F 

434 $£• Francis de Sales. 

tion because your Groissy* speaks not only with 
respect, but with quite an affectionate love of you and 
your two fathers, and, which pleases me most, of my 
dear little Aimee. I tell you the truth, he could not 
give me more pleasure than by this, and truly I hope 
that all will go on very well, and that there will 
remain no subject of discontent to anyone. 

Do not be sorry for having written to me about 
the twelve-hundred francs ; for you must not be sorry 
for anything which occurs with me. 

Well then, I shall see plenty of miseries, and we 
will talk of them, I hope, as much as we like. 

My mother wants you to make your little rest at 
Sales, where she will await you to accompany you 
here ; but do not think that I will leave you there 
without me : no, certainly not, for either I will wait 
for you there, or I will be there as soon as I know 
you are. I do not write to your good old attendant 
(commere), for I shall have leisure to entertain her 
fully : and I confess that you have given me much 
pleasure by putting her in your train, although for 
her I shall perhaps have to put myself to expense, in 
order that on her return she may give a good account 
of my magnificence. You see I am already laughing 
in my heart at the expectation of your arrival. 

* A brother of St. Francis. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 435 

To Madame de Cornillon, his Sister. 

On the death of their mother. 

4th If arch, 1 6 10. 

My dearest Sister, my Child, — Let us console our- 
selves as best we can in this departure of our good 
mother ; for the graces which God has employed, in her 
regard, to prepare her for so happy an end, are very 
certain marks that her soul is sweetly received into the 
arms of his Divine mercy, and that it is blessed by 
being delivered and disentangled from the burdens of 
this world. And we also, dear sister, shall be blessed 
in our turn, if, like her, we live the rest of our days in 
the fear and love of our Lord, as we promised one 
another that day at Annecy. 

His Divine Majesty attracts us thus to the desire of 
heaven, drawing thither, little by little, all that was 
dearest to us here below. Be then quite consoled, 
my dear child ; and if your heart cannot help feeling 
pain at this separation, moderate it at least so far by 
the acquiescence we owe to the good pleasure of our 
Saviour, that his goodness may not be offended, nor 
the fruit which he has placed in your womb be badly 

And I must add this word for your contentment : 
this poor good mother, before quitting Annecy, revised 
all the state of her conscience, renewed all the good 

F F 2 

43 6 St. Francis de Sales. 

resolutions she had made of serving God, and became 
so contented with me that more could not be ; for 
God did not will that she should be in a state of 
melancholy, when he took her to himself. So then, 
my dear sister, my child, always love me well; for I 
am more yours than ever ; and may it please God that 
you may be able to come and spend the Holy Week 
with us ! I should end it very much consoled. Good- 
day, my child, I am your brother, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

On the death of his mother, and her last moments. 

nth March, 1610. 

But, O my God, must we not, my dearest child, in all 

and everywhere adore this supreme Providence, whose 

counsels are holy, good, and most loveable? And 

here has it pleased him to withdraw from this world 

our best and dearest mother, to hold her, as I believe 

most assuredly, in his own presence and in his right 

hand. Let us confess, my well-beloved daughter, let 

us confess that God is good, and his mercy endureth 

for ever ;* all his wills are just, and his judgment is 

right, -\ his will is always good,% and his ordinances 

most amiable. 

* Ps. cxxxv. f Ps. cxviii. 137. 

% Rom. xii. 2. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 437 

And as for me, I confess, my child, that I feel a 
great pain in this separation, for this is the confession 
I ought to make of my own weakness, after making 
that of the divine goodness. But still, my child, it 
has been a tranquil pain, though sharp ; for I have 
said with David : / was dumb, and I opened not my 
mouth because thou hast done it* Without doubt, if 
it had not been so, I should have cried " stop" under 
this blow, but I do not feel that I should dare to cry 
out, or to express unwillingness under the strokes of 
this paternal hand, which, in truth, thanks to his 
goodness, I have learnt to love tenderly from my 

But you would perhaps like to know how this good 
woman ended her days. Here is a little account of 
it ; for it is to you I speak ; to you, I say, to 
whom I have given the place of this mother in my 
memento at Mass, without taking from you the place 
you had. I could not do it, so firmly do you hold 
what you hold in my heart, and thus you are there 
first and last. 

This mother, then, came here this winter; and, 
during the month she stayed, she made a general 
review of her soul, and renewed her desires of living 
well with very much affection, and went away entirely 
contented with me, having got from me, as she said, 
more consolation than she had ever done. She con- 
tinued in this state of joy till Ash Wednesday, when 

* Ps. xxxviii. 10. 

43 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

she went to the parish church of Thorens, where she 
confessed and communicated with great devotion, and 
heard three Masses and Vespers. In the evening, 
being in bed, and not being able to sleep, she had 
read to her by her maid three chapters of the Intro- 
duction, to entertain herself with good thoughts, and 
had the Protestation marked to make it next morning ; 
but God was satisfied with her good will, and arranged 
in another way ; for when morning came, and this 
good lady was getting up and having her hair done, 
she was taken suddenly with an effusion on the chest 
{catarrhe), and fell as if dead. 

My poor brother, your son, who was still asleep, 
runs in as soon as he is told of it, in his night-dress, 
and lifts her up and walks her about and helps her 
with essences, imperial- waters, and other things which 
are judged proper in such accidents, so that she wakens 
up and begins to speak, but almost unintelligibly, as 
the throat and the tongue were affected. 

They come here to call me ; and I go instantly . 
with the doctor and the apothecary, who find her 
in a lethargy, and paralysed in half her body; but 
lethargic in such sort that she was still easy to rouse 
up; and in these moments of entire consciousness, 
she showed perfect clearness of mind, either by the 
words she tried to say, or by the movement of her 
good hand, that is, the hand of which she still had the 
use : for she spoke very appositely of God and her 
soul, and took the cross herself, feeling for it (because 
she on a sudden became blind) and kissed it. She 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 439 

took nothing without making the sign of the cross 
over it, and so she received the Holy Oil. 

On my arrival, all blind and drowsy a3 she was, she 
embraced me tenderly, and said : " It is my son and 
my father, this ;" and kissed me, clasping me with her 
arm, and kissed my hand before anything else. She 
remained in the same state nearly two days and a half, 
after which we could not properly rouse her, and on 
the 1st of March she yielded her soul to our Lord, 
gently and peaceably, and with a dignity and beauty 
greater than perhaps she ever had, remaining one of 
the loveliest dead I have ever seen. 

For the rest, I must also tell you that I had the 
courage to give her the Last Blessing, to close her eyes 
and her mouth, and to give her the last kiss of peace 
at the instant of her departure; after which my heart 
swelled greatly, and I wept over this good mother more 
than ever I have done since I have been in the Church ; 
but it was without spiritual bitterness, thank God. 
This is all that happened. 

But I cannot help declaring the excellently good 
disposition of your son/" who has so extremely obliged 
me by the care and pains he has taken for this mother: 
and with such heart that I say if he had been some 
stranger, I should be forced to hold him and swear 
him (le jurer) for my brother. I know not whether I 
am mistaken, but I find him very greatly changed for 

* The Baron de Thorens, brother of St. Francis, and son-in-law 
of Madame de Chantal. 

440 St. Francis de Sales. 

the better, both as to the world, and principally as to 
his soul. 

Well then, my dear child, we must make our reso- 
lution about this, and ever praise God, even if it 
pleased him to visit us even more heavily. And now, 
if you find it suitable, you will come here for Palm 
Sunday ; I say here, because it is not right that you 
should spend the good days in the country. Your 
little room will expect you ; our little table, and our 
little and simple fare will be prepared and offered with 
good heart, I mean with my heart, which is entirely 

Now I run over the chief points of your letter. 
Our poor little Charlotte is happy in leaving the earth 
before she has properly touched it. Alas ! we must 
still weep a little over it ; for have we not a human 
heart, and a sensitive nature? Why not weep a little 
over our departed, since the Spirit of God not only 
allows it, but invites us to it. I have regretted her, 
the poor little child, but with a less sensible grief, 
because the great feeling of the separation from my 
mother took away almost all the sting from the feeling 
of this second pain, the news of which arrived whilst 
we still had my mother's body in the house. May 
God be praised also in this matter. God giveth, God 
taketh away, may his holy name be blessed. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 441 

To Madame de Cornillon, his Sister. 

The Saint consoles her on the death of M. the Baron de Thorens, 
their brother. 

After 27^ May, 161 7. 

O God ! my poor dearest sister, how troubled I am 
for the pain which your heart will suffer in the decease 
of this poor brother, who was so dear to all of us ! 
But there is no cure : we must stay our wills in that 
of God, who, if we well consider everything, has greatly 
favoured this poor deceased, in having taken him away 
from an age and a vocation in which there is so much 
danger of damnation. 

As for me, my dear child, I have wept more than 
once on this occasion ; for I tenderly loved this brother, 
and could not help having the feeliDgs of pain which 
nature caused me. But now I am quite firm and 
comforted, having learnt how devoutly he departed in 
the arms of our Barnabite Father, and of our Chevalier * 
after having made his general Confession, been recon- 
ciled three times, received Communion and Extreme 
Unction very piously. 

What better can we wish him according to the soul? 
And according to the body, he has been assisted so far 
that nothing has been wanting to him. 

Monseigneur the Cardinal- Prince, and Madame, 

* Janus de Sales, Knight of Malta. 

44 2 Si. Francis de Sales. 

the Princess, sent to visit him, and the ladies of the 
Court sent him presents of things to eat, and in fine 
Monseigneur the Cardinal, after his departure, sent 
twelve torches, with the arms of His Highness, to 
honour his funeral. 

May God then be for ever blessed, for the care he 
has taken to gather this soul in amongst his elect : 
for, after all, what else can we aim at. 

It cannot be expressed what virtue the poor little 
widow has shown on this occasion ! We shall keep 
her here (at the Visitation) some days longer, until she 
is entirely restored. Never was man more generally 
regretted than this one. So then, my dearest child, 
let us console our hearts the best way we can, and 
think good all it has pleased God to do : for, indeed, 
all he has done is very good. 

I make this letter common to my dearest brother 
(in-law) and you, in the hope of seeing you soon. 
May God for ever bless your heart, my dearest sister, 
my child, and I am without end most perfectly all 
yours, and your, &c. 


To Madame de Chantal. 

Perfect resignation of the Saint. 
My dearest Mother, — You will see in the letter of 
this good Father my pain. It has, indeed, a little 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 443 

touched me, but the news having come during the 
feeling which I had of a total resignation to the con- 
duct of divine Providence, I said nothing in my heart, 
except : Yes, heavenly Father, for so it hath seemed 
good in thy sight* And this morning, at my first 
awaking, I experienced such a strong impression of a 
desire to live altogether according to the spirit of 
faith, and the highest part of the soul, that, in spite 
of soul and heart, I willed whatever God willed, and I 
will that which is for his greater service, without reserve, 
and without sensible or spiritual consolation ; and I pray 
God never to let me change my resolution. 

I have had since Easter perpetual inconveniences, 
but I saw no remedy, and also no danger ; they are 
altogether gone ; thanks to God, whom I beseech to 
send them back to me, when he pleases. 

A thousand most loving salutations to your dear soul, 
my dearest mother, to whom God has given me after 
an incomparable manner. 


To the Same. 

Profound peace of the Saint amidst his affairs. Mark of his 

humility. He permits ladies some innocent recreations, under 

the name of oalls. He announces that he is going to work at 

the Treatise on the Love of God. 

No, my dearest child, I have had no news of you these 

three whole months ; and, indeed, I cannot believe that 

* Matt. xi. 26. 

444 «SV- Francis de Sales. 

you have sent me any. The longer the news delays, 
the more I wish it good. I confess that my heart 
importunes me a little in this regard; but I pardon it 
these little ardours, for it is paternal, and more than 
paternal. Will you really believe what I am going to 
tell you ? I received, some time ago, the little book, 
on The Presence of God ; it is a little work, but I 
have not yet been able to read it through, to tell you 
what I think of it for your service. It is incredible 
how I am hustled hither and thither by affairs; but, 
my dear child, you will distress yourself if I do not 
add that still, thanks to my God, my poor and weakly 
heart never had more repose, nor will to love his 
Divine Majesty, whose special assistance I feel for this 

O my dearest child ! what great pleasure you gave 
me one day on recommending to me holy humility ! 
Do you know that when the wind gets into our 
valleys, amidst our mountains, it takes the bloom off 
the little flowers, but roots up the trees ; and I, who 
am placed somewhat high in this charge of bishop, 
suffer the greater attacks. O Lord, save us ; com- 
mand these winds of vanity and there will come a great 
calm.* Keep yourself quite firm, and clasp very 
closely this foot of the sacred cross of our Lord ; the 
rain which falls from all parts of it, calms down the 
wind, great as it may be. When I am there some- 
times, O God, how is my soul at peace, and what 
sweetness does this dew, rosy and ruddy, give to it I 
* Matt. viii. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 445 

But I scarcely move one step away from it, and the 
wind begins again. 

I do not know where you will be this Lent accord- 
ing to the body ; according to the spirit I think yon 
will be in the cavern of the turtle, and the pierced 
side of our dear Saviour : I fully mean to try to be 
often there with you; may God by his sovereign 
goodness give us the grace ! Yesterday I seemed to 
see you, looking at the open side of our Saviour, and 
wishing to take his heart to put it into your own, as 
a king in a little kingdom j and though his is greater 
than yours, still he could make it little to accommodate 
it. How good is this Lord, my dear child ! how 
amiable is his heart ! let us stay there in that holy 
dwelling ; let this heart live always in our heart, this 
blood seethe ever in the veins of our souls. 

How pleased I am that we have cut the wings of 
Carnival (Careme-prenant) in this town, and that it 
scarcely knows itself! How I congratulated upon it, 
last Sunday, my dear people, who had come in extra- 
ordinary numbers to hear the evening sermon, and 
who had given up all amusement to come to me ! I 
was greatly pleased that this was so, and that all our 
ladies had communicated in the morning, and that 
they did not dare to have balls without asking leave : 
and I am not hard with them : # for I ought not to 
be, since they are so good, and so devout. 

I am going to put my hand to the book of the Love 
of God, and will try to write as much on my heart as 
* See note p. 97. 

44 6 «5V. Francis de Sales. 

on the paper. Be all to God ; I hope more every day 
in him, that we shall do much in our plan of life. 
My God, dearest child, how tenderly and ardently I 
feel the advantage and sacred tie of our holy unity ! 
I preached a sermon this morning all of flames, for I 
felt it ; I must say so to you. My God ! what bless- 
ings I wish you, and you cannot think how I am 
urged at the altar to recommend you more than ever 
to our Lord. What more have I to say to you, 
except that we should live with a life all dead, and 
die with a death all living and vivifying in the life 
and death of our king, of our flower, and our Saviour, 
in whom I am, your, &c. 


To the Same. 

On 7ds soul. — The will. 

14th July, 16 15. 
This false esteem of ourselves, my dear child, is so 
favoured by self-love, that reason can do nothing 
against it. It is the fourth thing difficult to Solomon, 
and which he said was unknown to him — the way of 
a man in his youth* God gives M. N. much grace 
in his having his grandfather to watch over him. 
May he long enjoy this blessing. 
* Prov. xxx. 19. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 447 

O my child ! Be sure that ray heart awaits the 
day of your consolation with as much ardour as yours. 
But wait, ray dearest sister; wait with waiting* to 
use the words of Scripture. Now, to wait with wait- 
ing is not to disquiet yourself in waiting ; for there 
are many who in waiting do not wait, but trouble and 
excite themselves. 

We shall make way, dear child, God helping : and 
a great mass of little crosses and secret contradictious 
which have come upon my peace, give me the most 
sweet and delightful hope possible, and foretell, 
me seems, the near establishment of my soul in its 
God. He is, certainly, not only the great, but, as I 
think, the unique ambition and passion of my soul, in 
which I include that soul which God has insepar- 
ably joined with mine. 

And as I am on the subject of my soul, I want to 
give you this good news of it, that I do and will do 
what you have asked me for it, — doubt not ; and I 
thank you for the zeal which you have for its good, 
which is not separate from the good of yours, if the 
words yours and mine can still be used between us on 
this point. I will say more to you : it is that I find 
my soul a little more to my satisfaction than usual, in 
having nothing which keeps it attached to this world, 
and being more sensible to eternal goods. 

If I were as truly and strongly joined to God as I 
am absolutely detached from the world, — dear 
Saviour, how happy should I be ! And you, my 
* Ps. xxxix. 1. 

44 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

child, how satisfied would you be ? But I speak of 
the interior and my opinion {sentiment) : for my 
exterior, and, what is worse, my conduct (deporte- 
ments) are full of a great variety of contrary imper- 
fections ; and the good that I will I do not ;* but still 
I know well that in truth and without pretence I will 
it, and with an unalterable will. 

But, my child, how can it be that with such a will, 
so many imperfections appear and spring up in me ? 
Certainly, it is not of my will, nor by my will, though 
in my will and on my will. It is, I think, like the 
mistletoe, which grows and appears on a tree, and in 
a tree, though not of the tree, nor by the tree. O 
God ! why do I tell you all this, save because my 
heart always opens forth and pours itself out without 
limits when it is with yours. 

If you were staying where you are, I should be 
very glad to undertake the service which the Rev. 
Father N. desires of me for this lady : but as you are 
not, it seems to me that another, whom she will have 
a chance of seeing often er, will make himself more 
useful for this good work ; and meanwhile I will pray 
our Lord for her : for on the good news you give me 
of her, I begin to love her tenderly, poor woman. 
Ah ! what a consolation to see this poor soul grow 
green again, after a winter so hard, so long, and 
so bitter. I am to you what God knows. Amen. 

* Rom. vii. 15. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 449 

To a Lady. 

He blames one of his spiritual daughters, who, in speaking 
of him, said extravagant things in his praise. 

22nd April, 161 8. 

My dearest Daughter of my Heart, — Know that I 
have a daughter, who tells me that my departure has 
caused her an agony of pain ; that if she did not 
restrain her eyes they would shed as many tears as 
the sky rains drops of water, to lament my departure, 
and such fine words. But she goes very much 
farther; for she says that I am not a man, but some 
divinity sent to be loved and admired ; and, she adds 
this notable speech that she would go to much greater 
extremes if she dared. 

What are you saying, my dearest daughter : does 
it seem to you that she is not wrong to speak so ? 
Are not these extravagant words ? Nothing can 
excuse them except the love which she bears me, which 
is indeed quite holy, but expressed in worldly terms. 

Now, tell her, my dearest child, that we must 
never attribute, in one fashion or another, Divinity to 
frail creatures ; and that to think of even going 
further in praise is an improper thought ; or at least 
to say it is to say improper words; that she must 
have more care to avoid vanity in words than in hair 
or dress ; that for the future her language must be 

G G 

45o St Francis de Sales. 

plain and not frizzled (/rise). But still, tell it her so 
gently, amiably and holily, that she may take this 
reprimand well : it proceeds from my heart, which 
is more than paternal. This you know, being truly 
daughter most dear of my heart, and daughter in 
whom I have put full confidence. May God be for 
ever our love, my dearest daughter, and live in him 
and for him eternally. Amen. 

A few years earliar the Saint had spoken to Madame 
de Chant al on a similar occasion, asfolloivs : 

My daughter, I am but vanity, and yet I do not 
esteem myself as much as you esteem me. I greatly 
wish you knew me properly ; you would not cease to 
have an absolute confidence in me, but you would 
scarcely esteem me. You would say : he is a reed on 
which God wants me to lean : I am perfectly safe, 
because God wills it so ; the reed, however, is good for 

Yesterday, after having read your letter, I walked 
two turns, with my eyes full of tears, at seeing what I 
am, and what I am thought to be. I see then that 
you esteem me, and methinks this esteem gives you 
much satisfaction r that, my child, is an idol. Still, 
be not troubled about this ; for God is not offended 
by sins of the understanding, although we are bound 
to keep from them if possible. Your strong affections 
will grow calmer every day by frequent actions of 

Letters of the Saint about himself* 45 1 


To a Cure of the Diocese op Geneva. 

Be recommends to him the conversion of an heretical doctor 
who was treating Madame de Chantal. 

Monsieur, my dear Confrere, and my entire friend, I 
send this on the return of that poor doctor who has 
not been able to cure our mother, and whom I have 
not been able to cure. Ah ! ought a son to kill the 
joy of his father's soul? With what good heart 
would our dear patient give her life for her doctor ! 
And I, poor miserable shepherd, what would not I 
give for the salvation of this uuhappy sheep ! Vive 
Dieu, before whom I live and speak, I would give my 
skin to clothe him, my blood to salve his wounds, and 
my temporal life to save him from eternal death. 

Why do I say this to you, my dear friend, save 
to encourage you, for fear the neighbouring wolvei 
should break in upon your sheep, or to speak more 
paternally, according to the feelings of my soul, and 
this poor Genevois. Take care that no infected sheep 
hurts the dear and well-beloved flock ! Watch care- 
fully all round about this fold ; and often tell them : 
Let fraternal charity abide in you ; # and above all 
pray to him who has said : / am the good shepherd^ 
that he may animate our care, our love, and our 

* Heb. xiii. I. \ John x. 14. 

G G 2 

4 5 2 -5V. Francis de Sales. 

I recommend to your sacrifices this poor sick 
doctor. Say three Masses for this intention, that he 
may be able to heal onr mother and we may be able 
to heal him. She is very ill, this good mother, and 
my spirit is a little in trouble about her illness ; I say 
a little and I mean much. I know, however, that if 
the Sovereign Architect of this new congregation wishes 
to take away the first foundation stone that he has 
laid, to put it in the holy Jerusalem, he well knows 
what he means to do with the rest of the building ; 
in this knowledge, I remain in peace, and remain 
your, &c. 

To a Friend. 

He complains of not being able to give himself to study. 

12th September j 1613. 

Sir, — I regret that you and Monsieur de N. are at 
Paris for so troublesome an occasion ; but since there 
is no help, it behoves that you soften the pain by 

And as for me I am in a continual turmoil which 
the variety of the affairs of this diocese unceasingly 
produces, without a single day in which I can look 
at my poor books which I so loved once, and which 
I no longer dare to love now, for fear that the divorce 

Letters of the Saint abotd himself. 453 

from them into which I have fallen might become 
more cruel and afflicting. 

We have a little country where, just lately, has 
been re-established the power of the church by the 
king's authority, and according to the Edict of Nantes ; 
but this restoration occupies me more in disputing 
with the ministers for the temporal goods of the 
church which they keep from us, than in persuading 
them or the people of the truth of the spiritual goods 
to which they should aspire; for it is a marvel how 
these serpents stop their ears not to hear the voice of 
the charmers,* how wisely and holily soever they 

There are there a sufficient number of very good 
pastors, and of good Capuchin Fathers, who not being 
heard by men are seen by God. He, without doubt, 
is quite contented with their present barrenness, which 
he will reward afterwards with a plentiful harvest, 
and if they sow in tears they shall reap in joy.f I 
have occupied you quite enough, sir, for the renewal 
of our intercourse, which I intend, God helping, to 
continue, and I intend not to cease recalling to your 
mind that I am invariably, sir, your, &c. 

* Ps. lvii. 5. f Ps. cxxv. 5. 

454 -5V* Francis de Sales. 


To an Ecclesiastic. 
On friendship. 

My very dear" Brother, — The question you ask me is 
this : Will not your heart love mine truly, and al- 
ways, and in all occurrences ? and my answer is : O 
my dearest brother ! It is a maxim of three great 
lovers, all three saints, all three doctors of the church, 
all three great friends, all three great masters of 
moral theology, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augus- 
tine : Amicitia guce desinere potuit nunquam vera fuit* 
There, my dear brother, there is the sacred oracle 
which announces to you the invariable law of the 
eternity of our friendship, since it is holy and not 
feigned (sainte et non feinte), founded on verity and 
not on vanity, on the communication of spiritual 
goods and not on the interest or commerce of temporal 
goods. To love truly and to cease loving are two 
incompatible things. 

The friendships of the children of the world are of 
the nature of the world ; the world passes, and all its 
friendships pass ; but ours is of God, in God, and for 
God : Thou art always the self-same, and thy years 
shall not fail.j- The world passeth away, and the 
concupiscence thereof: Christ passeth not away, nor 
his dilection. Infallible conclusion. 

* Friendship which could end was never true, 
f Ps. ci. 28. 

Letters of the Saint about himself . 455 

Your dear sister writes ever to me with so much 
outpouring of her dear love that truly she deprives 
me of the power of thanking her properly. I say the 
same of you, begging you to thank one another for 
the satisfaction you give me. 

For the rest, I send then the portrait of this ter- 
restrial man, so entirely am I without the power to 
refuse anything to your desire. 

I am told that I have never been well painted, 
and I think it matters little. Man passeth as an 
image ; yea, and he is disquieted in vain* I have 
borrowed it to give to you, for I have none of my 
own. Alas ! if that of my Creator were in its lustre 
in my soul, with what good will would you look upon 
it ! O Jesu I tuo lumine, tuo redemptos sanguine sana, 
refove, perfice, tibi conformes effice. Amen. 


To Madame de Chantal, at Paris. 

The Saint expresses his disgust for the court, and for tlie 
condition of a courtier. 

29th December, 161 9. 

I assure you, my best and dearest mother, that the 
sight of the grandeur of the world makes the grandeur 
of Christian virtues appear grander to me, and makes 

* Ps, xxxviii. 7. 

456 St. Francis de Sales. 

me more highly esteem its contempt. What a differ- 
ence, my dearest mother, between the assemblage of 
various suitors (pretendants) — for the court is this and 
nothing but this — and the assemblage of religious 
souls, who have no pretensions save for heaven. Oh ! 
if we knew in what consists true good ! 

Do not believe, my dearest mother, that any favour 
of the court can attach me. O God ! how much more 
desirable a thing is it to be poor in the house of God, 
than to dwell in the palaces of kings. I am here 
making my novitiate for the court, but I will never 
make my profession in it, God helping. On Christ- 
mas Eve I preached before the Queen at the Capuchins, 
where she made her communion ; but I assure you 
that I preached neither better nor more willingly 
before all the princes and princesses, than I do in our 
poor little Visitation at Annecy. 

O God ! my dearest mother, we must put our heart 
entirely in God, and never take it from him. He alone 
is our peace, our consolation, and our glory : what 
remains for us but to unite ourselves more and more 
to this Saviour, that we may bring forth good fruit ? 
Are we not blessed, my dearest mother, in being able 
to graft our stock on that of the Saviour, who is 
grafted on the Divinity ? For this sovereign essence is 
the root of that tree, whose branches we are, and 
whose fruit our love is : this was my subject this 

Courage, my uniquely dear mother, let us not cease 
to throw our hearts into God : they are the perfume- 

Letters of the Saint abottt Jiimself. 457 

balls which he loves to compound j let us allow him 
to make them as he likes. Yes, Lord Jesus, do all at 
your will with our hearts; for we wish neither part nor 
portion therein, but give, consecrate, and sacrifice them 
to you for ever. So then, remain always in perfect 
peace in the arms of our Saviour who loves us dearly, 
and whose holy love ought alone to serve as our general 
rendezvous for all our conversations : this holy love, 
my mother, in which ours is founded, enrooted, grows 
and is fed, will be eternally perfect and lasting. I 
salute our sisters affectionately. I am grieved that our 
Sister N. has the fancy of changing houses. When 
shall we not wish anything, but entirely leave solicitude 
to those whose duty it is to will for us what is needed ? 
But it cannot be helped : our own will is bridled by 
obedience, and still we cannot keep it from rearing up, 
and prancing. We must bear the infirmity. ' Much 
time elapses before we become entirely despoiled of 
ourselves, and of the pretended right of judging what 
is best for us and desiring it. I admire the little Infant 
of Bethlehem, who knew so much, who had such power, 
and who, without saying a word, let himself be handled, 
and bound, and fastened, and wrapt up as required. 
May God ever be in in the midst of your heart and 
mine, my dearest mother. 

45 8 St. Francis de Sales. 

To the Same. 

Disinterestedness of the Saint. 

nth May, 1620. 

Well, my Mother, — I am in your parlour, where I 
have had to come to write these four or five letters 
which I send you. I must then tell you that I cannot 
think anything should be done in the matter you know 
of,* if God does not wish it with his absolute will ; for, 
firstly, there was what I said immediately to Monsieur 
the Cardinal, namely, that if I left my wife (his see) 
it would be to have no more. I manage to get on, 
though with great difficulty, and to bear the burdens 
of my present see, with which I have grown old; but 
with one quite new to me, what should I do ? The 
will of God alone, manifested by my superior, the Pope, 
can draw me from this path. 

2. My brother then is bishop :f that does not enrich 
me, it is true ; but it relieves me, and gives me some 
hope of being able to get out of the crowd. That is 
worth more than a cardinal's hat. 

3. But your nephews will be poor ? My mother, I 
consider that they are already less so than when they 
were born ; for they were born naked : and besides, 
two or three thousand crowns, or even four, would not 
give me enough to help them without lowering the 

* The Coadjutorship of Paris. f Coadjutor to the Saint. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 459 

reputation of a prelacy, and in which are required 
so many alms, pious works, just and necessary 

4. Here is His Highness who tells me that he abso- 
lutely insists on my accompanying Monseigneur the 
Cardinal, his sen, to Rome : and, in fact, it will be 
useful even for the service of the Church that I should 
make this journey : though in good truth, my mother, 
it is not according to my inclination. After all, it is 
ever going, and I like to rest, and it is going to court, 
and I like simplicity. But there is no help ; as it must 
be, I will do it, and with good-will, and meantime the 
thoughts of that great prelate yonder will have leisure 
to melt away. Let us then speak no more of it except 
according to occurrences, my mother. 

I am for ever, without reserve and without com- 
parison, that is, beyond all comparison, yours, and 
certainly, as you know very well yourself, I am yours 
very perfectly. 

To the Same. 

Acquiescence of the Saint in the Divine Will. 

My dearest Mother, — These few words go, by an 
unexpected opportunity, to salute your dear soul, 
which I cherish as mine own : and such it is, in him 
who is the principle of all unity and union. 

460 St. Francis de Sales. 

I cannot deny that I am grieved about your fever ; 
but do not pain yourself about my pain, for you know 
me. I am a man to suffer, without suffering, all it 
will please God to do with you as with me. Ah ! we 
must make no reply nor reflection. 

I confess before Heaven and the angels that you 
are precious to me as myself; but this takes not from 
me the most determined resolution to acquiesce fully 
in the Divine will. We wish to serve God in this 
world, anywhere, with all that we are : if He judge it 
better that we should be in this world, or in the other, 
or in both, His most holy will be done, since I am 
inseparable from your soul; and to speak with the 
Holy Spirit, we have henceforward but one heart and 
one soul: for what is said of all the Christians of 
the early Church, is found, thanks to God, in us. 

I will say no more save that I am better, and my 
heart goes better than it has done for a long time ; 
but I know not whether the consolation comes from 
natural causes or from grace. 

May God ever be in the midst of your heart, to 
fill it with His holy love ! Amen. Vive Jesus, my 
dearest Mother, I am as you know yourself, ever- 
more entirely yours. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 461 

To M. Favre. 

The thought of eternity. 

My Brother, — I finish this year with the satisfaction 
of being able to present you the wish I make you for 
the following. 

They pass then away, these temporal years, my 
brother ; their months melt into weeks, weeks into 
days, days into hours, and hours into moments, which 
last are all we possess : and these we only possess as 
they perish and make up our perishable life. This 
life, however must on this account be more dear to us, 
since being full of misery, we cannot have auy more 
solid consolation therein than that of being assured 
that it gradually disappears to make room for that 
holy eternity which is prepared for us in the abun- 
dance of God's mercy. To this eternity our soul 
aspires incessantly by the continual thoughts its very 
nature suggests to it, though it cannot have hope for 
eternity except by other and higher thoughts which 
the author of nature bestows upon it. 

Truly, my brother, I never think of eternity with- 
out much sweetness; for, say I, how could my soul 
extend its thought to this infinity unless it has some 
kind of proportion with it? Certainly, a faculty 
which attains an object must have some sort of cor- 
respondence with it. But when 1 find that my desirei 

462 St. Francis de Sales. 

runs after my thought upon this same eternity, my 
joy takes an unparalleled increase, for I know that 
we never desire, with a true desire, anything which is 
not possible. My desire then assures me that I can 
have eternity : what remains for me but to hope that 
I shall have it ? And this is given to me by the 
knowledge of the infinite goodness of him who would 
not have created a soul capable of thinking of and 
tending towards eternity, unless he has intended to 
give the means of attaining it. Thus, my brother, 
we shall find ourselves at the foot of the crucifix, 
which is the ladder by which from these temporal 
years we pass to the eternal years. 

I wish then about your dear soul that this next 
year may be followed by many others, and that all- 
may be usefully employed for the conquest of eternity. 
Live long, holily, and happily amongst your own here 
below during these perishable moments, to live again 
eternally in that unchangeable felicity for which we 
pant. See how my heart pours itself out before 
yours, and expresses itself according to that confidence 
which is given it by the affection which makes me 
yours, &c. 

Letters of the Saint about himself. 463 


To a Lady. 

Contempt of the grandeurs of this world. — Desires of Eternity. 

Lyons , igth December, 1622. 
A Thousand Thanks to your well-beloved heart, my 
dearest daughter, for the favours it does to my soul, in 
giving it such sweet proofs of its affection. My God ! 
How blessed are they who, with hearts disengaged 
from courts and from the forms which reign there, 
live peacefully in holy solitude at the foot of the 
crucifix. Truly, I never had a good opinion of 
vanity, but I find it much more vain amid the feeble 
grandeurs of the court. 

My dearest daughter, the more I advance in this 
mortality, the more contemptible I find it, and ever 
more loveable the holy eternity to which we aspire, 
and for which only we must love one another. Let us 
live only for this eternal life, which alone deserves the 
name of life, in comparison with which the life of the 
great of this world is a very miserable death. 

I am with ail my heart very truly all yours, my 
dearest daughter. Your, &c. 

The End. 

- vniiyyu^wm ^7-S"*— 

% 2179 .F.7 L5713 1890 


Francis, de Sales, 
Saint, 1567-1622. 

Letters to persons in 
the world / 

AWT- 9 6 53 (sk)